Corporate citizenship is the degree and manner by which a company contributes to the overall well-being of the larger community. This includes not only the comany’s customers but also the non-customers that form the foundation of the company’s ability to conduct business.

It”s common for companies to view the role of being good corporate citizens in terms of “giving back” to the community, after they have achieved business success, through charitable contributions to worthy causes that impact their non-customers. While these charitable contributions are incredibly valuable efforts that do a great ¬†service, there is another critical component that many companies miss.

Often there are people within the community who could make a significant contribution to the success of the company – as employees – people who would never get the opportunity to do so without an intentional effort on the part of the company to find them and bring their talents into the organization. Who are these people, this untapped resource, that can help companies succeed? They are disabled or other similarly challenged workers.

People with challenges such as a physical disability, a reading or other cognitive disability or other issues, can be extremely productive workers. They are enthusiastic about their jobs, love the chance to be productive and contribute, and can be among the best employees a company can have. Despite this, there is up to a 70% unemployment rate among these non-traditional workers! A comprehensive view of good corporate citizenship should also include identifying tasks that this radically underemployed population could perform and, where possible, bringing them into the company to make their valuable contribution.

For companies that adopt this view, this would lead to increased employment of the local population, specifically helping a significantly overlooked segment – those with challenges. There are many positive results. These individuals would have meaningful employment, increasing self esteem and independence. The company would be contributing back to the community in the course of conducting its daily business. As a side benefit, there would also be positive impact on the company culture. Barriers of perception could be broken down as existing employees have their perspectives expanded to look at people different than themselves in a way they might not have viewed them before. This opens the way for greater acceptance of ALL fellow workers, with or without challenges, creating a more harmonious work environment for all, which leads to higher productivity for all.

Is your human resource policy overlooking this untapped resource in your midst? Are you intentionally identifying opportunities where non-traditional workers could contribute to your business goals? If you would like help to analyze where such opportunities might exist and how to take the next step, click here to request a free customized analysis, or call New Ventures at (706) 882-7723.