this photo shows a MOD Pizza employee, Eddy Barnhill, who has an intellectual/developmental disability

Fast-Growing Restaurant Chain Commits to Hiring More Employees with Differing Abilities

MOD Pizza, one of the country’s fastest-growing restaurant chains, has pledged to hire more differently abled employees—including those with autism and intellectual or physical disabilities—by 2025 as part of a larger nationwide effort to foster inclusive and diverse workplaces.

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, MOD Pizza joined the Delivering Jobs pledge, an inclusion campaign spearheaded by Autism Speaks, Best Buddies and Special Olympics in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation. MOD, a national pizza brand with a loyal millennial following, will join a coalition of companies that have committed to creating a total of 1 million new employment and leadership opportunities for people with autism and intellectual and developmental differences (IDD) over the next five years.

Eighty-one percent of adults with IDD do not have a paid job in their community. The Delivering Jobs initiative aims to help them develop the skills they need for employment and leadership positions while incentivizing businesses to hire them.

As a purpose-led restaurant brand, MOD Pizza practices what cofounder Scott Svenson terms “a more enlightened form of capitalism” that drives profits while creating a positive social impact. The company was the country’s fastest-growing restaurant chain in 2018 and 2019.

As PMQ Pizza Magazine reports, MOD Pizza focuses on impact hiring and an inclusive culture, creating jobs for people who ordinarily struggle to find employment. MOD has found success through building its MOD Squad workforce to include people with IDD, opportunity youth (young people aged 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market), and those who have been previously incarcerated.

MOD currently has more than 300 Squad members with IDD, and a few of them helped to create this inspiring video, titled “Our World,” last year.

Our World from MOD Pizza on Vimeo.

“MOD exists to serve people in order to contribute to a world that works for and includes everyone,” said Ally Svenson, co-founder and chief purpose officer of MOD Pizza, in a statement about the Delivering Jobs program. “This pledge not only aligns with our mission to build an inclusive workplace and a culture of opportunity, but hopefully will also encourage other companies across the retail and restaurant industry to do the same.”

Angela Geiger, president and CEO of Autism Speaks, said hiring differently abled people can make a difference at any company. “We’ve seen firsthand the positive impact of inclusive employment on businesses of all sizes,” she said. “Through [the Delivering Jobs campaign], we hope to facilitate and normalize recruitment and management practices, providing the resources for these workers to thrive.”

Delivering Jobs is challenging all businesses to identify ways they can incorporate this untapped workforce into their diversity and inclusion plans; ensure that they have access to a minimum of 1% of employment and leadership opportunities; and empower HR personnel to invest in the long-term success of all employees.  Learn more at www.deliveringjobs.org.

 

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