Anna Gouker

Anna Gouker, host of "Lead The Way with Anna Gouker" and Outreach Coordinator at AchieveAbilities 

Bright Ideas are back! Leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and people who are doing interesting things share their bright ideas for 2020 with the Cap Times. Find them posted here throughout the week and in print on Jan. 8.

Madison is not a perfect place, but it’s close. With the fastest growing economy in Wisconsin, there is so much here to offer and all the opportunities that we have available are multiplying every day.

I was adopted by this community in 2011 when I enrolled at UW-Madison for graduate school. I was born with a severe physical disability, and I chose the rehabilitation psychology master’s program at UW to become better equipped to assist people with disabilities in reaching their employment goals.

In a 2018 report released by Accenture, in partnership with Disability: IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities, research confirmed that hiring people with disabilities makes good business sense. The analysis of 140 companies showed profit margins 30% higher for those that took a focused interest in inclusion of workers with disabilities. Employers with disability inclusion practices were also found to have revenues that were 28% higher than those without.

According to the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, 41% of people with disabilities in Wisconsin were employed between 2010 and 2015, placing our state ahead of the 35% national average. I have witnessed in my work, and experienced in my own life, the dramatic impact of enabling people of all abilities to make their contribution.

The Madison community has much to gain from improving upon these standard rates of employment by utilizing a ready and willing workforce of diverse abilities.

—As told to Abigail Becker 

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