A car accident more than 10 years ago left Geoff Credi with temporary mobility issues — and a newfound passion.
“I gained a new appreciation for the challenges folks have from an accessibility perspective,” says Credi, director of facilities at the Chicago headquarters of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC).
That realization led Credi to co-found the In-Abled Business Resource Group (BRG) at HCSC in 2009. The BRG’s initial goals were to increase disability awareness, equality and community involvement.
The group’s efforts are part of a companywide commitment to diversity and inclusion. That commitment was recognized this year when HCSC received a perfect score on the Disability Equality Index from Disability: IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities.
HCSC has scored 100% on the Disability Equality Index each year since 2017.
“This is not new for us. We’ve always had a passion around making sure we have an inclusive environment and a diverse workforce,” says Tynagia Polk, senior manager of human resources within the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at HCSC. About 5% of the company’s employees self-identify as having a disability.
The Disability Equality Index scores companies on leadership and culture, enterprise-wide access, employment practices, community engagement and supplier diversity.
"We've always had a passion around making sure we have an inclusive environment and a diverse workforce."
In 2020, HCSC continued its focus on being a welcoming, accessible environment for every employee.
One recent win was making virtual meetings more accessible — especially important as many more employees started working remotely because of COVID-19.
Closed captioning is now available upon request for any meeting at HCSC. “Before, we had to go through a pretty extensive process to get closed captioning for a meeting,” Credi says. “Now it’s a menu offering. That is a big deal.”
Now that closed captioning is easily available for all meetings, In-Abled is taking the lead on making sure people take advantage of it.
“We’re actively asking people to make sure they use it, so meetings are inclusive for everybody and everybody has a voice at the table,” says Jill Bradley, chair of the Illinois chapter of In-Abled.
Another recent initiative made physical spaces more accessible. The company installed automatic door operators throughout the Chicago headquarters, going beyond what the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates.
“Without funding and support of leadership, this would not have been a reality,” Credi says.
Engagement in diversity and inclusion efforts among HCSC leaders — from managers to senior executives — is one of the reasons the company has been consistently recognized by the DEI.
While the In-Abled BRG has already made a major impact on HCSC’s focus on disabilities, Credi — now the enterprise chairperson for the group he helped create — knows this mission is more important now than ever.
“Embracing diversity and inclusion helps me personally understand how understanding and embracing our differences makes us stronger and more capable of solving difficult issues as they arise,” he says. “Now with all of the things happening with coronavirus, civil issues and racial inequality, we need to embrace differences and work together.”