The Harkin Summit: Innovating for Inclusion

Doubling Disability Employment In A Changing Landscape

Senator Tom Harkin (retired) speaks during the 2017 Harkin Summit

Senator Tom Harkin (Retired) opened the second annual Second Harkin Summit on Global Disability Employment with remarks on cooperation between business sectors to aid in the employment of people with disabilities.

“I am convinced that the way to tackle this thorny problem in the U.S. and around the world is by working together across sectors,” Harkin said. “With the common goal of generating new approaches that bring sectors together to re-imagine what is possible.”

Harkin challenged the room to help double the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities in the U.S. and around the world in the next 10 years.

The retired senator remarked on the growth that the summit experienced from the previous year, noting that it had increased from 186 participants from 30 countries to 270 people from 40 countries.

“There is no question that the world is starting to pay attention to this global issue, and I am so delighted that key global leaders like President Jim Kim from the World Bank and Darren Walker from the Ford Foundation will be joining us,” Harkin said.

The focus of the 2017 summit is innovation, collaboration and acceleration. In that vein, conversations, panels and smaller breakout talks were all focused on real-world solutions to problems that affect countries around the world.

“Many of the participants in the first summit learned things that inspired them to push for change when they went home,” Harkin said. “The first Harkin Summit was a catalyst for innovation, collaboration and acceleration.”

“I hope [innovation] will continue to happen after this year’s event, but on an even bigger scale.  So, let’s get to work!”


Written by Anne Matte