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Small Business Spotlight: 1st Bank

1st Bank, a division of Glacier Bank with branches in Wyoming and Utah, prides itself on its commitment to both customers and community. And thanks to strong support from top level leadership, the bank is also a recognized leader in the employment of people with disabilities.

Seyed Yadegari, the bank's executive vice president and chief operations officer (COO), has hired and advanced numerous individuals with disabilities during his 30 years in the banking industry. It's a practice that benefits his bank as well as the employees he hires. "I have found that the employment of people with disabilities has proven to be a good and common sense business decision," says Yadegari. "It reduces operational cost, increases efficiency and uplifts the morale among other employees."

Yadegari's bank branch currently employs several individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities who spend their hours doing clerical work and document imaging. In addition to being productive and valuable members of the team, these workers have enriched 1st Bank's work environment.

In his internal work as the bank's COO, and in his role as Board chair of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, he frequently works to demystify disability employment for other peers and business leaders.

Some of his suggestions for a smooth employment experience for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities include breaking work tasks down into smaller components that can be performed within a few hours per day, and working with community partners such as Business Leadership Networks and vocational rehabilitation providers to recruit qualified candidates. Such organizations will often offer guidance and free training to help you and your staff ensure a win-win employment experience.

"I would encourage every business leader to consider employing individuals with disabilities," says Yadegari. "It is a worthwhile cause."

For more information on top-down inclusion leadership and other leading practices, access Small Business and Disability Employment: Steps to Success, which provides practical guidance for small businesses on how to recruit and retain qualified people with disabilities.

Editor's Note: This is the latest installment in a periodic series of "Business Sense" issues showcasing the experiences of actual small businesses that are working to foster a disability-inclusive workplace culture. If you know of additional small businesses we should feature here, please tell us about them by contacting the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN).

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