There are 9.6 million open jobs in the current labor market, according to the May 2023 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Inclusively, a St. Louis-based startup still in its infancy stage, is working to fill the employment gap by introducing employers to a highly valuable, yet underused, talent pool: people with disabilities. Co-founder and CEO Charlotte Dales, a former finance executive who launched the company in 2020 with Sarah Bernard, admits that the concept for Inclusively came to mind during a spa session.
“My cousin, Cameron Northup Delgado, became the first licensed aesthetician in the state of Florida with Down syndrome; and I came up with the idea for Inclusively while getting my first facial from her,” Dales shares on Inclusively.com.
Statistics Show Need for Inclusively
Dales simply planned to indulge in a little self-care but found herself wholeheartedly caring about the well-being of her cousin as well as the many other talented people with disabilities who, despite being capable and qualified, often struggle to find gainful employment. Data shows that the employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities is around 36%, compared to the much higher employment-to-population ratio of 75% for those without disabilities. The inequality is staggering, especially as it’s been more than three decades since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law, prohibiting employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in the full range of employment-related activities, from recruitment to advancement, to pay and benefits.
In the U.S. alone, at least 61 million (or roughly 1-in-4) adults live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet, many job seekers with disabilities intentionally do not disclose their disability and, in some cases, attempt to mask their condition. Inclusively strategically does business in the opposite manner.
“One of the norms we’re trying to change is that you should disclose up front,” versus disclosing after you’re hired or not at all, Dales expressed during a podcast interview. “Our candidates do that on our platform because they know that we’re using that data and giving it to the employer with the ability to respond. We’ve built a trust bond with our candidates that if you’re disclosing this to us and you’re going to apply for a job, employers aren’t just receiving your resume, but they’re receiving these accommodation requests with information on how to provide them and how to shift potential processes in order to accommodate them.”
That’s important because, unfortunately, many hiring professionals still do not know that workplace accommodations are usually nominal when it comes to added expense (less than $500) and aren’t that complex to implement. Inclusively helps combat such accessibility misconceptions by empowering employers with insights, access, training and support so they can attract and retain qualified workers of all abilities. Through the platform, employers obtain aggregated access to the fragmented network of nonprofits and training programs that support diverse talent. Inclusively says that job seekers are recommended to jobs accounting for their accommodations’ requests, enabling companies to set up an inclusive experience at the front door.
Advancing & Diversifying Job Recruitment
“We have over 50K job seekers on our platform and have developed and consolidated partnerships with over 50 enterprises including Lyft, Delta, Salesforce, Charles Schwab, as well as access to over 900 nonprofits, government agencies, training programs, universities and more. This has enabled employers to access a robust source of over one million candidates and growing,” Tiffany Meehan, Inclusively’s VP of Marketing, tells AmeriDisability.
Recently, in April 2023, Gayle M. Benson announced her increased investment in the Inclusively company. Benson is the owner of New Orleans Saints (NFL) and the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA). She first became an investor of the workplace platform in October 2022. “Our goal is for Inclusively to become an integral part of the NFL and NBA daily hiring processes,” Benson said in a press statement.
“The platform that Inclusively provides is unmatched in today’s world of seeking talent; and it’s time to recognize that, just because a person has a challenge in one area of life, they can succeed in others.” Linley Fenlason, Senior Talent Acquisition and Retention Manager for the Saints and Pelicans, added, “Our teams, led by Gayle Benson, recently became Inclusively customers, and we are prepared to hire our first employee through the Inclusively process this month.”
Engaging with sports franchises is a big win for Inclusively, as well as for potential employees. “We make it easy for hiring teams to accommodate candidates, rapidly increasing a company’s ability to benefit from diverse talent,” Dales explained following the announcement. “Gayle Benson and Benson Capital Partners’ investment in our company allow us to grow and reach candidates whose talent otherwise may be overlooked.”
Meehan tells AmeriDisability that there is no cost for job seekers using Inclusively, adding, “For employers, we offer an enterprise solution that is tiered based on access to our candidate database, robust training, community and other services.”
Inclusively is Tapping into Talent
As the inspiration of Inclusively, Delgado says she’s thrilled to be building a career in an industry that she is passionate about and even more excited to help show other job seekers and employers how important it is to prioritize inclusive opportunities.
“Inclusively made the job search so easy! There were a variety of professional positions on the website and it was so easy to add my resume and look for positions,” proclaims Lucia R., a job seeker who found success using Inclusively. “I benefited so much from using the service because I had interviews and received a job offer for a company I wouldn’t have known was hiring otherwise. During the interview process, a representative from Inclusively reached out and was such a great supporter along the way.” Lucia now works as a Workforce Navigators Program Associate at Salesforce.
Blending a Personal & Professional Purpose
Just after sharing the professional achievement of Benson’s investment in Inclusively, Dales shared a personal loss on her LinkedIn new feed. She penned, “In December, we lost our little girl Sadie at 27 weeks. She had very severe ventricularmelagy and didn’t make it.” The devastating announcement was accompanied by a picture of Dales’ other daughter caressing her pregnant belly, adding “I knew when I took it, it was probably the only one [photo] we would get to have of the two sissies.”
Dales personal post went on to say that, “Many babies with this same condition as Sadie are able to survive. Depending on the severity, they might live with varying degrees of physical and mental disabilities.” She offered a call-to-action of donating to St. Michael Special School in honor of Sadie. Dales, whose husband is also a financial guru, also has a son (in addition to her toddler-aged daughter). AmeriDisability extends our heartfelt condolences to the Dales family for their recent loss.
It’s clear that Dales and Bernard, who serves as Inclusively’s COO, are passionate about creating an equitable, productive workplace for all. They are inspiring leaders to create much-needed inclusive workplaces. So, are you ready to tap into a diverse job hunt? Get started with Inclusively.