In honor of Fishers’ celebration of National Disability Awareness Month, we’re featuring community stories related to disability and inclusion every Wednesday throughout March. Learn more about the celebration and how you can be an ally for disability inclusion at fishers.in.us/DisabilityAwareness.
Meet Your Neighbor: Ben Pigott, winner of the Cornerstone Employer Award
Ben Piggott is the winner of the 2021 Cornerstone Employer Award from the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability.
Ben has been working at McAlister’s Deli for five years. He started as a part-time employee and has worked his way up to manager. Throughout his time at McAlister’s, especially in his role as manager, Ben has done outstanding work providing opportunities and training for people with disabilities. It can be difficult for individuals with disabilities to find a job, and Ben has not only made sure that job opportunities were available, but also provided thorough training.
The Cornerstone Employer Award is given to an individual, business, or organization in the Fishers community who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to providing inclusion, career training, employment, and/or advancement opportunities to persons with disabilities. Ben has consistently done exactly that. His efforts in providing people with disabilities the chance to participate and thrive in the work environment have led to positive impacts on countless lives.
When Ben became a manager at McAlister’s three years ago, he became connected to HSE Schools’ vocational program for students with disabilities. Through this program, he was connected to four individuals looking for jobs. Ben says that training part came easily as he was able to relate to the students and remember his own nerves when starting a new position. As these individuals began working and flourishing, Ben became even more invested in their growth as employees.
Ben says it was awesome to watch them “overcome some intimidating tasks.” He remembers one of the students who started out extremely quiet and shy quickly became the “keystone of the kitchen.” He said the entire company felt lacking when he wasn’t there because he had become such an integral part of the operations. Another student originally struggled with working the cash register, which if you’ve ever worked one before, especially with a long line of customers, you know can be daunting. After building up the courage and working with Ben, the student became comfortable working in this position and overcame the obstacle.
Unfortunately, many businesses still express concern about hiring people with disabilities. Ben described the experience of working with people with disabilities as “different, but not harder.” He continued to say that at least in his personal experience, he has had more success with people than disabilities because of their dedication and appreciation of the work they are doing. Ben says that his employees with disabilities frequently went “above and beyond” and became essential to the business.
The experience of training and employing people with disabilities is a rewarding opportunity for the employer as well as the employee. Too often are these individuals overlooked in the hunt for an employment opportunity. In reality, hiring people with disabilities is a way to find motivated, excited employees who are in an untapped market. According to a 2019 population survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 80% of individuals with a disability are either unemployed or not in the labor force.
The Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability’s Employment Subcommittee brings awareness of employment opportunities and helps educate area employers of the large workforce capacity of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. The Fishers Disability Inclusion Business Networking Group was established to connect vocational training specialists with HR representatives to provide a network of potential employees with area employers.
Visit the committee’s website to learn more and get involved. You can also check out local employment resources compiled by the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability.
Cassidy Robertson is a former Community Engagement and PR Intern for the City of Fishers. She enjoys shopping and eating local in downtown Fishers, and in her spare time, she loves working on puzzles and reading a good book. She also enjoys playing with her three dogs and loves watching Fishers continue to develop both as an economic and social hub.