The Harkin Summit: Innovating for Inclusion

Doubling Disability Employment In A Changing Landscape

On November 2, 2017 Harkin Summit attendees broke off by their sector to discuss issues that directly pertain to their industry focus. Each sector shared their major takeaways with the assembly to find further points of collaboration.



  • The reoccurring theme was to take action to change the mindset of the business sector and the public sector.
  • One of the concerns that was raised was that the disability community is that we live in silos. The different communities don’t work together.
  • What can we do to get employees to voluntarily self-disclose?
    • Make sure everything is accessible. This will allow comfort for individuals with disabilities so they can feel safe within their workplace.
  • When discussing disabilities we often leave out mental and developmental disabilities.
    • We need to break down the myth that people with disabilities can’t do the job.



  • As funders, we should really collaborate to fund model programs.
  • This may mean a more regional approach which implements communication.



  • Different people across the globe consider disabilities differently.
  • How do we address the issue of not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you?
  • Individuals with disabilities need to be along on every part of the journey.


Civil Society

  • Non-government organizations and universities primarily represented civil society.
  • Collaboration a unit to share best practices, even though there is marketplace competition.



  • There is a disconnect between stakeholders, which starts to be solved through dialogue and then progressive action.
  • Society needs to ensure that people with disabilities are trained in ways that can meet market needs.
  • Self-identification can be encouraged through the creation of a work environment where people feel comfortable and safe enough to do so.
  • As a community, people should reward brands that have inclusive practices.



  • We need more teeth in the dialogue, including involvement and investment in engaging with various stakeholders.
  • We need to move past advocacy to action.
  • Language is a key factor in success, so potentially moving toward “proactive” rather than “aggressive.” Also making sure that the language acknowledges the culture which it is operating within.
  • We need to have a concrete plan to play up our strengths whether that is monetary or otherwise.
  • Collaboration is key. Almost every sector discussed open communication and partnerships as the best way to accomplish goals. 


Written by Madeline Miller