In its first year, the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit convened 180+ attendees from 30 countries over 1.5 days. The Summit was an invitation-only event of select stakeholders who had been successful at employing people with all types of disabilities, or adapting policies and practices that encourage others to do so.
This year, we expect an even more robust turnout. The Summit differs from other conferences in that it is dialogue-driven and fluid, allowing for an exchange of ideas between those who have a wealth of resources, but have trouble with implementation, and those who have deep knowledge of grassroots-level action, but have limited access to capital. These interactions help spark participant-driven collaborations. Its themes and topics are decided by the participants, many of whom are pioneers in their own fields. Inclusivity is both the goal and the core of the Harkin Summit, and its approach to disability employment must and always will be guided by those who built it.
In a dynamic global market, people with disabilities are a tremendous resource that we simply can’t afford to ignore. The Summit recognizes them as essential contributors, and aims to build on their potential for strengthening our workforce.
In the coming years, it is our hope that the Summit will be held in other major cities to reflect its mission: no matter where they are in the world, everyone with a disability deserves the opportunity to earn a fair wage.