State officials push for hiring disabled workers

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Two big names in Michigan politics came together in Jackson Monday afternoon to highlight the importance of hiring people with disabilities.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein spoke to a group of employees at Consumers Energy, and called on other companies across the state to hire disabled workers.

At the event was Carli McNeill, a gas engineer at Consumers.

Just looking at her you wouldn’t know that she has a disability.

“I struggle with anxiety and a panic disorder,” McNeill said.

McNeill says she’s glad to work for a company that empowers employees with a wide range of disabilities through a group called capABLE.

“People with disabilities are people. They will perform just as well, as long as their abilities are put into play. Just like we work in jobs that use our strengths, just like anyone else,” McNeill said.

Calley and Bernstein spoke to the group about the importance of hiring people with disabilities.

“Employers, there’s a talented awesome group of employees that you haven’t tapped into. When it comes to hiring though, it’s important you’re looking at your hiring steps and make sure you’re not ruling people out, or have unintentional barriers to a person getting that shot at a job,” Calley said.

Justice Richard Bernstein, who is blind, says he’s an example of how far people with disabilities have come.

But he says we still need to mindful of how we can make the disabled feel valued.

“We know what we’re capable of, we know what we can accomplish, we know what we can achieve. We just need for able-bodied people to give us an opportunity to do it. That’s all we need,” Bernstein said.

McNeill says creating a welcoming workplace is a good first step.

“It’s one thing to think about people with disabilities. But really acting on that, and making an inclusive place for anyone to interact with you, that’s something you can do,” McNeill said.


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