This October, TIAA employees celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month by giving back to the community and candidly sharing the triumphs and challenges of living with disabilities and helping those with disabilities.
TIAA’s Diverse Abilities Business Resource Group (BRG), formed for associates with disabilities and caregivers of those with disabilities, held multiple events companywide in honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, to grow awareness and support of diverse abilities and how it affects colleagues and people in the community. The events educated TIAA employees on diverse abilities and how to be more inclusive to everyone.
One of the events included a visit from Hendrick Motorsports’ Richie Parker, who shared his unique story of overcoming obstacles and facing adversity. Richie Parker was born with bilateral amelia, a non-genetic birth defect in which limbs are not formed. He is a renowned speaker on overcoming adversity, and has been profiled by ESPN. Parker is the contributor to six NASCAR Sprint Cup championships, and currently serves as a chief engineer of government and military projects.
TIAA is also passionate about making a difference in local communities, and additionally in recognition of Disability Awareness Month, the Diverse Abilities BRG and TIAA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team partnered to facilitate a community service project with seven local offices. The teams assembled sensory kits for children with autism and other similar developmental disorders. The Diverse Abilities BRG office chapters came together via video conference in offices to pack sensory kits that included ‘squeezy’ and fidgety type toys and kinetic sand designed to calm children.
“We’ve had a need for things like this particularly in the eastern part of North Carolina these past few years due to hurricanes,” said Jessica Otto from the Autism Society of North Carolina. “As you can imagine, it’s very traumatic for a person with autism to deal with the power going out. These kits will be a comfort for lots of kiddos!”
TIAA’s Diverse Abilities BRG virtual coast to coast event began with a Kinetic Sand Packing Race, where each site selected two members to pack the small bags of kinetic sand the fastest. In total, they packed 50 small bags of kinetic sand. In Jacksonville, the Diverse Abilities BRG and TIAA Bank employees brought the effort full circle by volunteering at the Mount Herman Exceptional Student Center to hand out the sensory kits to the students, and helped with other tasks at the center. TIAA employees from Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Iselin, Jacksonville, New York and Waltham packed over 930 kits for four local nonprofits that support and help with autism.
TIAA values and practices diversity and inclusion, as well as philanthropy and giving back. Providing numerous opportunities for employees and their families to learn, share, and help those with diverse abilities advances inclusiveness in the workplace and in communities.