American Family named top employer for the disabled
American Family is on the CAREERS & the disABLED magazine's 2023 Annual Top 50 Employers list. Employee Nick Pilarski shares his experience being neurodivergent.
According to U.S. Census data, 12.7% of Americans have some form of visible or invisible disability. Invisible disabilities are not immediately apparent and are typically chronic illnesses or conditions that significantly impair daily living.
One form of invisible disability is neurodivergence, which refers to diversity in the human brain and cognition. While some neurodivergent characteristics present challenges in traditional work or educational settings, these individuals also have unique strengths that can improve productivity, quality, innovation and engagement.
Neurodiversity in the workplace
Nick Pilarski, rotation IT-security analyst, has been with American Family for almost two years as part of the company’s Rotation Development Program. Pilarski is diagnosed with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, which means he has a different learning style than others.
“I am a visual learner, which means it’s hard for me to retain verbal directions. Communicating my needs to my manager and colleagues was an important step in advocating for myself, which has led to an overall positive experience,” said Pilarski.
While this may seem like a small change, it made a big difference in Pilarski’s productivity and overall well-being at the company.
“It’s important for employees at all levels to have more awareness about neurodiversity and other disabilities to help reduce the stigma surrounding it,” said Pilarski. “About a quarter of the global population has some form of neurodivergence, but many people don’t disclose it to their employer for fear of discrimination.”
Pilarski is a member of the company’s abilities business resource group (ABRG) and a sub-group, the neurodiversity affinity group. The goal of these groups is to promote inclusivity of neurodivergent people within the enterprise and how to accommodate their needs. One way they are achieving their goal is by educating other employees on behavioral differences that may be misunderstood in the workplace, such as lack of eye-contact, which can be overstimulating for neurodivergent people.
“For many people with invisible disabilities, they may not be diagnosed until later in life, so it’s important to be empathetic. American Family has done a great job of listening to people like me and promoting inclusivity,” said Pilarski.
Company recognized by CAREERS & the disABLED
Pilarski’s experience at American Family was recently affirmed when the company was named on the CAREERS & the disABLED magazine's 2023 Annual Top 50 Employers list.
American Family was ranked 28 out of 50 for the 32nd Annual Top 50 Employers. Readers of the magazine selected the top companies in the country for which they would most prefer to work or believe provide a positive working environment for people with disabilities. The list of the “Top 50 Employers” that will be featured in the Winter 2022-23 edition of CAREERS & the disABLED magazine.
“We are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive environment for people of all abilities,” said Dr. Gregory Stinyard, diversity and inclusion director, who helps lead the company’s DEI efforts, and oversees the business resource groups. “Each employee has different needs, and we want to accommodate and nurture them so they can reach their full potential.”
To see the full Top 50 list, visit the Careers & the disABLED winter issue.
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About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 12th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 251 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The General, Homesite and Main Street America Insurance. Across these companies the group has more than 13,000 employees nationwide.
About CAREERS & the disABLED magazine
CAREERS & the disABLED Magazine, established in 1986, is the nation's first and only career-guidance and recruitment magazine for people with disabilities who are at undergraduate, graduate, or professional levels. Each issue features a special Braille section. CAREERS & the disABLED has won many awards, including several media "Award of Excellence" acknowledgments from the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. This magazine reaches people with disabilities nationwide at their home addresses, colleges and universities, and chapters of student and professional organizations through a paid subscription.