Photo: Lesly is the 2nd man from the left in the front with the trophy
Northwell Health’s Pathway to Inclusion
Written by: Lesly St. Louis
I have been advocating for individuals with disabilities – a group of which I am a proud member – for most of my life. The biggest challenges we have to overcome are not the disabilities, but the stigma surrounding them. As an Inclusion Specialist at Northwell Health, I now facilitate employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. My role provides me with the resources to replace fear with mutual understanding, allowing persons with disabilities to become productive members of society.
My job is especially meaningful to me as I know how it feels to encounter barriers from employers. I was born with a congenital malformation called Spina Bifida, which is a defect of the spine and spinal cord. As a result, my primary way of mobilizing is by use of a wheelchair. But I haven’t let that stop me. Through the support and dedication of my parents, as a child, I began participating in adaptive sports designed specifically for individuals with disabilities just like me. I was embraced by the community and it was empowering. The athletes I met over the years guided me through challenges on and off the court. Because of this experience, I learned that I too had a responsibility to support other individuals with disabilities. I took on a leadership position in my wheelchair basketball team to inspire others to overcome and live better with their disabilities.Northwell Health became the biggest supporter of my wheelchair basketball team.
Northwell Health became the biggest supporter of my wheelchair basketball team. I was fortunate to meet Chief People Officer Joe Moscola, who introduced me to the different employment opportunities Northwell offered.
I will be working to communicate our inclusive workforce vision by connecting with schools, vocational services, and other public forums. Community outreach is key to ensuring people with disabilities are aware of the multiple employment opportunities that exist within Northwell Health. Educating everyone in our organization to work collaboratively on creating dynamic opportunities well suited to both the needs of the individual and those of the organization can result in a successful outcome. Connecting our recruiters and hiring managers to individuals with disabilities through specialized events such as workshops will also foster direct communication, furthering our shared goals of creating an inclusive workforce.
I personally know the difficulties that disabled individuals face when finding a job. I had countless conversations with prospective employers and found a few common themes: they would find multiple reasons why they could not hire this person, or if they were willing to give them an opportunity, why they were not able to promote them within the company. I know that I can play a vital role in helping other disabled individuals find a role here at Northwell Health and can honestly say that the organization is focused on this initiative. It is both my job and my vocation to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. My hope is that through creating opportunities for employment, we can work together to increase confidence within these individuals and inspire them to conquer more challenges and achieve even higher levels of success.
It is both my job and my vocation to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. My hope is that through creating opportunities for employment, we can work together to increase confidence within these individuals and inspire them to conquer more challenges and achieve even higher levels of success.