Currently eighty-five percent of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed in the United States. Leaders in the advertising industry are channeling an effort based across the globe to tackle this challenge.
Creative Spirit is an Australia-based non-profit that was created with the goal of bringing people with disabilities into the creative sector. It was founded in 2008 by David Nobay, CCO of Droga5. Creative Spirit is now making its debut in the U.S.as industry leaders from the world of New York City marketing and advertising firms are collaborating with a similar goal: to put 130,000 men and women with developmental disabilities in jobs within the marketing and advertising sector by 2020.
“This is a global crisis, and very likely the most profound human rights employment issue of our time, however it goes unsolved,” said Laurel Rossi, co-founder and CEO of Creative Spirit and main marketing and advertising officer at the marketing and advertising company Rauxa. “We imagine that if the private sector will come together with its collective voice — and with the use of technologies — that we can fix this challenge at scale.”
Rossi said at a panel to unveil the effort last week — during Advertising Week in New York — that the 130,000 number is significant because it would bring the percentage of unemployed people with developmental and intellectual disabilities from 85 to 84.
Rossi, who has a 16-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, and Gina Grillo, CEO of the AdClub of NY, teamed up with Nobay to bring the initiative to the states. After two years of planning, they rolled out a pilot program earlier in the year by hiring two candidates with disabilities for the Rauxa offices in New York and Costa Mesa, California.
Some of the vacancies that will be marked for this initiative are from flagship companies, such as A&E Networks, Deutsch, Fallon, Joan Inventive, Colgate (Colgate-Palmolive is No. 35 on the DiversityInc 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), Publicis and Independent Media, to name a few. Creative Spirit is touting that over 50 businesses are already on board with the collective movement.
Creative Spirit has roughly 30 volunteers who are trying to break into the world of advertising by working alongside industry professionals. The volunteers came through Creative Spirit’s partnerships with National Down Syndrome Society, Williams Syndrome Association, National Autism Society and Best Buddies. The goal is simple: to network with industry professionals and to hone interview skills that will serve the candidates in their future job search and careers.