How Disability Inclusion Improves Life at Home 1

The Awareness of Visible and Invisible Disabilities (AVID) Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Whirlpool Corporation strives to progress the company’s vision of improving life at home, including for the 1 in 4 people globally who experience a disability.

In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, here’s HOW the company and AVID drive inclusion and why it matters to Whirlpool Corp.:

 

Improving Designs and Features for Consumers: To be the best kitchen and laundry company in the world, we must make efforts towards inclusive design for all.

The AVID team acts as a consultant for business strategy and product development in the company through Disability Immersion Activities that inspire empathy in employees, so they can drive support for more accessible features and marketing in our products.

The first activity focuses on vision impairment and the second on mobility disability. During the activities, participants are asked to attempt some simple tasks with appliances from our major brands while their vision or mobility is impaired.

By educating participants on vision impairments or mobility disabilities, and the small changes we can make to our appliances, we hope to make a big difference for our consumers.

Vice President of Laundry Platforms, Eduardo Andrade says, “Participating in this activity offered me a new perspective towards product design and innovation. It’s a valuable experience for any leader, engineer, or designer as we strive to improve life at home with our products.”

Connecting with Employees: An inclusive workplace culture drives productivity and results.

Employee education and development are imperative to driving an engaging workplace and also an inclusive culture. AVID has internal campaigns and events that support employees throughout the year like Autism Acceptance Month, Mental Health Awareness Month and Suicide Prevention Month, to name just a few.

In October, AVID celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month with various activities to reach employees including:

  • Product Immersion activities that build consumer empathy
  • Development opportunities for current and aspiring people leaders to develop with inclusive best practice sharing
  • “Let’s Talk About It” sessions where panelists lead an open dialogue sharing their personal stories
  • Networking opportunities.

“Employee resource groups are vital to the employee experience, and the AVID ERG at Whirlpool is no exception,” said Monica Cederstrom, vice president of human resources and AVID executive sponsor. “From leadership development to resourceful webinars, they are continually driving progress for our employees and our business when it comes to disability inclusion.”

 

Impacting the Community: Whirlpool succeeds when our community thrives.

The AVID team also drives impact in the community, supporting good-neighbor efforts and partnering with local organizations like the Disability Network of Southwest Michigan, The LOGAN Center, and the United Spinal Association. So far in 2023, the group has contributed at least 274 volunteer hours in southwest Michigan.

AVID also participates in Project Search, a special education transition program that trains and equips individuals with disabilities to perform complex jobs, and supports each student in finding meaningful work within the community. This program supports the hiring and retaining of diverse talent.

Additionally, members of AVID support corporate endeavors, like consulting on accessibility features in the new Emma Jean Hull Flats multi-family housing development in Benton Harbor.

Thanks to these activities, and more, Whirlpool Corporation has been recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” after receiving a 100 percent score on the 2023 Disability Equality Index (DEI) for the seventh straight year.