Florida State University, College of Business

Workforce Inclusion

Within the College of Business, this transformative course prepares students to both accommodate and integrate persons with varying abilities into the workforce.

Call to Action 

The course specifically addresses recruitment, retention, and development of otherwise qualified persons with disabilities (PWDs). This is an empowerment course that provides students with the tools, knowledge, and experience to harness previously untapped capital for the betterment of the organization. 

Description 

The Workforce Inclusion course exemplifies how the FSU College of Business is elevating diversity and inclusion for both students and faculty. International, national, and state workforce statistics demonstrate disparate labor force participation rates between individuals with and without disabilities—a differential of roughly 40 percent. Some of this difference can simply be explained by hiring managers and C-suite leaders being uninformed, afraid, or otherwise biased toward this population.  

The original course challenged our students to examine workforce needs, innovations, compliance, and wellness programs from the perspective of PWDs. The course now further explores artificial intelligence, social media, adaptive technology, and the telework benefits that have been proven to be productive, dynamic, and healthy for all employees. The course not only teaches students about the history of PWDs within the workforce by exploring the journey, policy changes, the Americans With Disabilities Act, Section 504, Section 508, and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities, but it also empowers students with experiential learning that provides firsthand opportunities to debunk myths that frequently circulate around the world’s largest minority population.  

Dr. Andrew Houtenville, research director of the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, who has guest lectured to the students multiple times, says MAN 4310 “is one of the very few inclusion-specific courses being taught today. The course’s objectives and impact on future leaders cannot be underestimated. This course tackles and sheds light on misunderstood issues.” 

Impact 

This course is a perspective-changing class, according to student reviews. Most students state they had “no idea” about the challenges and biases confronting PWDs, nor the opportunities for corporate America to benefit from greater inclusion, before taking this class. In 2020, this course and the instructor’s broader work were recognized with the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award, sponsored by an internationally recognized education and employment center. This award is given to “a premier advocate who implemented groundbreaking employment and education programs that continue to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.” 

 

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