Global Disability Inclusion Strategist Debra Ruh—Strictly Business Keynote Speaker, Mom

debra ruh

JVS Chicago will bring together experts in the field of disability inclusion to share strategies with leaders from Chicago’s business community about one of the most critical issues facing employers -- how to tap into the large sector of prospective employees who have disabilities and create a diverse workforce. An educational and networking event, “Strictly Business: Strategies for Disabilities-Inclusive Workplaces” comes on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the American Disabilities Act.

Keynote speaker Debra Ruh, an international expert on disability inclusion and author, has worked with governments and disability organizations on hiring inclusion issues. She understands disability inclusion on a personal level, too, as she works with her daughter Sarah, who has Down syndrome.

“Including persons with disabilities in your workforce is critical to your corporate strategy,” said Ruh. “I have worked with countries and major corporations all over the world to create programs to effectively include individuals with disabilities in their workforce.” 

The session will include best practices, case studies and risk/reward strategies from Ruh’s new book Uncovering Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Corporations Leverage Multiple Abilities in Their Workforce, which shows employers how to create programs to fully include, accommodate, train and retain employees with disabilities. 

“Employers need a strategic plan and roadmap to attract and retain the best talent and that plan must include candidates with disabilities,” Ruh said.  

Effective business leaders, employers and HR professionals have come to understand the value of hiring people with disabilities to their businesses: Increased employee job retention, productivity, morale and loyalty; lower turnover; and greater appeal to consumers who want to patronize companies with values that mirror theirs.  

Ruh and panelists Rolena Richardson from Uniqlo and David Rowland of Seyfarth Shaw LLC, two companies that have developed and implemented disability-inclusion hiring programs, will share their insights and experiences from the employer’s and Human Resources perspectives with the goal of providing a roadmap.

“What businesses need -- and this forum offers are constructive, practical answers and specific strategies to help them successfully hire people with disabilities and reap the benefits of a diversified workforce,” said Howard Sitron, Executive Director of JVS Chicago.

“Strictly Business: Strategies for Disability-Inclusive Workplaces” will take place on from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth Ct. (Registration and networking breakfast begins at 8 a.m.). Following the keynote, Melissa Harris, former business columnist for the Chicago Tribune, will moderate a panel discussion and Q and A. Tickets are $35. Space is limited; registration is highly recommended. Register online at or by phone at 312-673-3403. 

The program has been submitted to the HR Certification Institute for CEU Review.

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