“It’s an honor to be in this book with so many inspiring people,” says Avitus Group Senior Accounting Specialist Ashlee Mead. “‘Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something’ is one of my favorite quotes, and the people in this book illustrate that.”
Embracing Inclusion: People With Disabilities Enriching the Workforce by Marc Goldman profiles more than 100 workers with disabilities. It includes an introduction by former President George H. Bush, who signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, and autism spokeswoman Dr. Temple Grandin. The book features United States Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is a veteran that was injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom, several actors, comedians and those excelling in the workplace such as park rangers, social workers and Mead, who is hard of hearing.
“Avitus Group is proud to have one of our employees featured in a nationwide publication,” says Avitus Group Public Relations Manager Dianne Parker. “We are fortunate to have Ashlee on the team. She works extremely hard, does a great job and regularly receives recognition from her supervisors.”
Embracing Inclusion emerged from Goldman’s 25 years advocating on behalf of people with disabilities. The book is Goldman’s attempt to dispel stereotypes, create work opportunities, educate employers and inspire those with disabilities.
“I tried to develop an instrument that would highlight the widest possible range of disabilities, abilities, age, cultural, sexual orientation and all fields of diversity,” Goldman says. “I am very proud of our accomplishment.”
Mead is featured in the first section of the book titled “People With Disabilities in the Workplace” and is an example of someone with a disability succeeding in the workplace.
“I don’t like the term impairment,” she says. “That has a negative connotation. I was raised not to let my disability be a stumbling block or an excuse in life. I’ve shown people that you don’t have to be ‘normal’ to achieve great things, and just because we’re ‘different’ doesn’t mean we don’t have dreams.”
Originally from Cut Bank, Montana, Mead has a Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State University-Billings. She started with Avitus Group in 2013 as a Junior Bookkeeper and has since advanced to Senior Accounting Specialist. It has always been her dream to get a degree in accounting and work in a professional setting. In addition to her career dreams, Ashlee is getting married in July of 2017, and she says she is extremely happy to be where she is both professionally and personally.
“Ashlee’s disability is not a hindrance in her work performance,” says Mead’s supervisor Talena Johnson. “Ashlee excels in customer service and is one of our strongest accounting specialists.”
Mead says she considers her disability an advantage at work because it makes her detail-oriented and attentive. She appreciates her job and the steps Avitus Group takes to empower her.
“Avitus Group provides interpreters for our annual conference and quarterly department trainings,” says Mead. “The company provides video phones and Skype Instant Messaging as additional ways to communicate with our co-workers across the country. This is critical for me as I rely on written communication and lip-reading. When a group meeting is overwhelming (scanning the room to lip read can be difficult) my supervisor will send me an email recapping the main points I need to know. Avitus Group has provided me with a strobe light for the fire alarm and the company in general is very inclusive, which is much appreciated. I’m proud to work for such a great company.”
“Avitus Group believes in enriching the workforce with people with disabilities,” Avitus Group Director of Talent Acquisitions Anne Arrowsmith says. “We ensure everyone can thrive at work and do everything we can to help employees maneuver any obstacles that may be in their path to success.”
A few tips from Mead to help companies empower employees like her:
Top Inclusion Tips for Business Community
1. Have an open mind.
2. Ask employees what is best for them (because everyone has different needs).
3. Do the little things like including subtitles on training videos.