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What Your D&I Policy is Missing: Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The following guest post was authored by Eric Davis of i4cp. (View the original post published 10/15/14 on i4pc.com.)


What if the chance to be considered for a job–any job–was completely out of the question? Regardless of education, experience, skill, talent, work ethic–you (or someone you care about) were relegated to dependency and perhaps poverty? Imagine being excluded from ever experiencing even a measure of the independence, sense of accomplishment, and camaraderie so many of us take for granted by virtue of simply being employed, and this was due solely to biases about hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

Many families in our communities live this reality every day–in fact, nearly five million people in the U.S. have some form of intellectual disability, which means that the likelihood is quite high that this affects someone you know personally or professionally, or both. Here are a few more numbers that should give pause:

  • A staggering 85% of adults in the U.S. with developmental disabilities do not have a paid job in the community.
  • Only a quarter of corporate D&I recruiting efforts differentiate for types of disabilities–and only half of those target people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
  • While the jobless rate for those with disabilities is nearly twice that of the general population, those with IDD hover closer to 70% unemployment. But we can do better.

Best Buddies International’s I’m In To Hire campaign–backed by i4cp’s latest study, Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities–confronts long-standing biases about inclusive hiring and takes an employer’s-eye-view to the workplace potential of people with IDD. In partnership with non-profit disability advocates Best Buddies International, Project SEARCH, and several exemplary companies that live their inclusion values, i4cp’s research puts hard numbers to what those who already employ workers with IDD have known for years–companies gain dependable, motivated workers who deliver observable business benefits, while also building inclusive cultures that attract broader talent pools.

What the numbers show

Employer-identified ratings for employees with IDD Based on data collected from more than 200 organizations, our study found that three-quarters or more of employers rate their employees with IDD as good to very good on most performance factors–including work quality and productivity.

Nearly three-quarters of companies that hire workers with IDD report a positive experience, with fully one-third of high-performance organizations–based on measures of profitability, market share, revenue growth, and customer satisfaction over time–saying the experience exceeded expectations.

While some hire workers with IDD to support corporate social responsibility efforts, the addition of exceptional and productive hires is high on the list of reasons to include people with IDD in the talent mix, particularly for those who use diversity and inclusion (D&I) as a driver of organizational strategy. While also signaling an inclusive culture to the broader talent pool, what many find by hiring workers with IDD are good talent matches that also link to observable business benefits such as overall engagement and increased customer loyalty.

Reasons organizations hire people with IDD

The challenge of inclusion

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, founder and chairman of Best Buddies International, and author of the study’s forward, heralds the findings of Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as powerful. “People with IDD are enormously talented, loyal, hard-working, and driven individuals who have the ability to contribute to the workplace,” Shriver noted. “I challenge corporations worldwide to hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With outstanding resources and proper support, it is an ideal time to invest in this incredible group of people to assist in growing revenue, improving customer relations, and effectively managing your operations.”

What employers say

The enthusiasm of the employers we interviewed during our research, especially when asked about the talent and abilities people with IDD bring to their workplaces, was palpable. And those who actively work with organizations to find integrated employment opportunities for people with IDD in their communities tell us that positive anecdotal outcomes are easy to come by. Here are just a few:

  • Walgreens (an i4cp member company) has seen its IDD inclusion efforts deliver multi-faceted benefits to the organization, the community, and the company’s customer base. Steve Pemberton, divisional vice-president and chief diversity officer of Walgreens, says, “Because of our investing efforts in employing individuals with IDD at the retail locations, customers often tell us that Walgreens has become their pharmacy of choice.”
  • “From a productivity standpoint, our employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities are highly attentive, eager, and earnest about applying themselves,” says Matt Capaci, staffing manager at Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB).
  • “People with IDD are a tremendous resource,” says John Hailer, CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management in the Americas and Asia. “We’ve found people who are phenomenally responsible and motivated.”
  • “We’ve had a tremendous experience with our Buddies,” says Lisa Damon, executive committee member in Seyfarth Shaw LLC’s Boston office. “They have become an integral part of our team and the firm’s day-to-day business operations.”
  • “We’ve shown that IDD workers can do complex work,” says Mitch Morgan, leadership development program manager at Fifth Third Bank. “They are prepared for the world of work, for orientation, for performance management.”

If you or your organization is “in to hire” workers with IDD, or you want to learn more, go to the I’m In To Hire website and download the free i4cp study, Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The report includes stories detailing how companies are leveraging the talents of workers with IDD. It covers the gap in real vs. perceived challenges that hold many back from tapping this talent pool, outlines Section 503 compliance benefits for government contractors and subcontractors, and the wealth of resources available to help you get started–such as professional onsite workplace assessments, job customization, coaching support, and more. We hope you’ll be inspired to explore how your company’s D&I efforts can become even more inclusive.

This article is co-authored by Eric Davis, Creative Director & Senior Editor, i4cp; and Lorrie Lykins, Director of Research Services and Managing Editor, i4cp.

Image courtesy of Best Buddies International and Rosetta Stone.

Confronting Ignorance and Arrogance About Diversity and Inclusion

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

The following guest post was authored by Kevin Martin of i4cp. (View the original post published 10/1/14 on i4pc.com.)


I recently read an article written by a self-proclaimed “national diversity expert” in which the author purposefully derides the role of chief diversity officer just to elicit an emotional response from readers, only to overshadow the author’s real position, which is made clear at the end of the article: “Limiting the practice of diversity to workforce representation issues diminishes the business value that can be garnered from diversity, marginalizes the practice, and is time-limited.” We are all familiar with issues on which the arrogance of a few (generally high-profile personalities) either contributes to or exploits the ignorance of many. The topic of diversity and inclusion (D&I) seems perfectly aligned to this ruse and it’s time we move beyond the baiting and on to the substance. What follows is pure substance.

Since i4cp published its research on the 12 Diversity Practices of High-Performance Organizations, we’ve increasingly seen where D&I is a contributing factor to key business initiatives such as developing effective global leaders, ensuring a more customer-focused workforce, and enabling greater organizational agility. In fact, our research shows that at high-performance organizations, D&I is much more an enabler to the business than it is an initiative or program viewed in isolation from the business.

The following are three examples from recent conversations that I’ve had with the chief diversity officers (CDOs) of high-performance organizations. Each example speaks directly to the strategic application of D&I and its related business impact:

1) A single branch office of a leading bank drove that branch’s revenue by over $2M U.S. dollars in just one year by analyzing demographic data in its area and then adopting inclusion practices and promotions that appealed to the LGBT community;

2) The CDO of a large financial services/insurance company used data analytics to analyze new hires and associated business impact to determine which community partnerships the company would sunset or invest in during the coming year. Those decisions have netted the company 15 highly productive new employees as well as millions in US dollars from new clients attracted to their firm via those partnerships;

3) The CDO of a large regional healthcare provider in the southwest U.S. spearheaded the company’s supplier diversity initiative (one of three key business initiatives for that year) and, as a result of practices the CDO’s function recommended and executed, is near its 2016 goal of achieving 25% of its spend with diverse suppliers and also has seen impressive gains in its supplier satisfaction scores and–most importantly–its quality of services rendered.

It’s understandable that some of us are easily offended by claims about diversity and inclusion that come across as ignorant and/or arrogant as often they are unsubstantiated by data or real-world examples. To combat this, take some action! Join i4cp as we advance the interest in and application of D&I. You will be on the leading edge of how high-performance organizations apply diversity and inclusion practices and strategies to achieve competitive differentiation, and drive business value. Here’s some of what you can do:

Stay tuned for more!

Deadline Extended for 2014 DirectEmployers Association Member Awards Competition

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

DirectEmployers Association is extending the deadline for the 2014 Member Awards Competition. DirectEmployers Member Awards (DMAs) entries must now be received by 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Friday, November 7, 2014.Deadline Extended for 2014 DirectEmployers Association Member Awards Competition

The DMAs recognize DirectEmployers Members for revolutionizing common practices and/or establishing new, groundbreaking programs in OFCCP compliance and recruiting. One winner and runner-up will be selected from each of the following six categories:

  • VEVRAA and Section 503 Compliance Initiatives
  • Diversity Initiatives
  • Career Website
  • Recruitment Marketing Campaign
  • Employer Branding
  • Candidate Engagement

A distinguished panel of industry practitioners and thought leaders will score submissions based on originality, outcome and customer satisfaction.

Participation is a great opportunity for Members to gain feedback from judges and peers, industry recognition and exposure for your company.

To be eligible for consideration, entries must have been executed, implemented or rolled out in the calendar year of 2014. You must also be a Member of the DirectEmployers Association at the time of your submission and up through May 15, 2015. For more details, visit the Rules section of the Member Awards website.

Entering is quick and easy. Simply visit http://app.ly/memberawards and select the “Click here to get started” link in the left-hand column of the homepage. You will be prompted to create an account. This allows you to begin a submission and comeback and finish or edit at a later time – just be sure it’s submitted by the November 7 deadline!

Check out previous winners in this video or read more from the 2013 award press release. For more information, please contact the DMA Award Committee Chair, Katie Pfledderer, at 317-874-9070 or email Katie@DirectEmployers.org.

Snapshot of last year’s award recipients:

AOL AT&T Cardinal Health Colorado Springs Utilities Eaton Emory University J.B. Hunt Transport REI Schlumberger Sodexo Vantiv

WIOA and What It Means to Federal Contractors

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

State Workforce Agencies Responding to the Needs of Employers
Just like federal contractors, state workforce agencies have regulations and legislative orders. In fact, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014, changing how state workforce agencies will be supporting employers in the future.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) states on their website that, “The enactment of WIOA provides opportunity for reforms to ensure the American Job Center system is job-driven—responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs that are available now and in the future.”

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into State workforce agencies will have some time to understand this new law and create programs that will be in compliance. According to the DOL’s website, “In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment, unless otherwise noted. The State Unified Plans and Common Performance Accountability provisions take effect July 1, 2016. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue further guidance on the timeframes for implementation of these changes. DOL will issue proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment.”

This timeline is very similar to the deadlines for the new federal contractor VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations. The new regulations became effective March 24, 2014, but contractors with a written affirmative action program (AAP) already in place on the effective date have additional time to comply. The OFCCP has stated they aren’t playing a game of “gotcha” and will be working closely with federal contractors over the next 12-24 months, providing further guidance and clarification as to the best way to ensure compliance.

Upon closer examination, the effective dates of these new regulations for state workforce agencies and federal contractors appear to be very similar, as do the actual requirements for each of these parties.

Notable highlights of WIOA include:

  • Strategically Align Workforce Development Programs –Emphasizes engaging employers across the workforce system to align training with needed skills and match employers with qualified workers.
  • Increases Accountability - Requires every state to develop a 4-year strategy in the form of a single unified strategic plan for core programs, for preparing an educated and skilled workforce, and meeting the workforce needs of employers.
  • Improves Services to Employers and Promotes Work-Based Training – State and local boards will promote the use of industry and sector partnerships to address the workforce needs of multiple employers within an industry. Local areas can use funds for demonstrated effective strategies that meet employers’ workforce needs, including incumbent worker training, Registered Apprenticeship, transitional jobs, on-the-job training and customized training.
  • Improves Services to Individuals with Disabilities – Individuals with disabilities have increased access to high-quality workforce services to prepare them for competitive integrated employment. The WIOA requires better employer engagement and promotes physical and programmatic accessibility to employment and training services for IWDs. Youth with disabilities receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain and retain competitive integrated employment. It creates an Advisory Committee on strategies to increase competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.

VEVRAA (4212) highlights include:

  • Hiring Benchmarks - Require contractors establish annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans.
  • Data Collection – Require contractors document and annually update several quantitative comparisons for the number of veterans who apply for jobs and the number of veterans they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts.

Section 503 highlights include:

  • Utilization Goal- Establish a nationwide 7% utilization goal for qualified IWDs. Contractors apply the goal to each of their job groups, or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees. Contractors must conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems.
  • Data Collection – Require contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of IWDs who apply for jobs and the number of IWDs they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts.

The requirement of federal contractors to work more closely with the local providers (which includes the American Job Centers across the country) in veterans and IWDs outreach, and measure the effectiveness of this outreach, overlaps with the requirement for state workforce agencies to engage employers to align training with needed skills and match employers with qualified workers. State workforce agencies will also receive funding to aid in providing the needed training; however, they will be held accountable for the effectiveness of these new initiatives.

So, federal contractors need to create strategies for outreach to local levels that are actually providing them with veterans and IWDs hires, and states need to create programs for employers to help meet their hiring needs – and IWDs are included in these requirements. And, both are required to measure if these programs are providing jobs.

The National Labor Exchange (NLx) is positioned to help both of these parties collaborate to meet these regulations. The NLx is the only partnership of its kind that brings employers and state workforce agencies together, providing more opportunities to connect job seekers and employers.

To get more involved with the NLx or to learn more about opportunities available for meeting your VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations, contact a Membership Development representative at 1-866-268-6206 or email info@directemployers.org.

Disability Employment Benchmarking Data

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The new Section 503 regulations require federal contractors to conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems. There’s never been a better time to consider partnering with organizations like the National Organization on Disability (NOD).

The NOD is a private, non-profit organization that promotes the full participation and contributions of America’s 56 million people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Today, NOD focuses on increasing employment opportunities for the 79 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities who are not employed.

Disability Employment Tracker

Starting September 10, the NOD has an opportunity for employers to enroll in Year 2 of the Disability Employment Tracker. This initiative offers companies across a range of industries the following benefits:

  • Confidential assessment of your disability and veteran employment practices
  • Benchmarking against other participants and industry-specific benchmarking, where statistically notable
  • Leading practices to educate internal stakeholders on successes and opportunities
  • PLUS, starting this year, DiversityInc will consider completion of the Disability Employment Tracker™ a significant factor when determining their Top 10 Companies for People with Disabilities
  • Free of charge to all companies

To enroll, email tracker@nod.org or visit www.NOD.org/tracker for more information.

Recognition Opportunity for Disability Employment

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Champions of Change

The White House is seeking nominations for its Champion of Change for Disability. They’re seeking innovators who are breaking down barriers to the middle class by providing employment opportunities for workers with disabilities, including workers with significant disabilities.

These leaders will be invited to the White House to celebrate their accomplishments and showcase their actions to ensure that individuals with significant disabilities have a fair shot at succeeding in good jobs and careers.

Please nominate a Champion of Change by midnight on Sunday, September 14, 2014. They are looking for Champions who reflect the diversity of our nation, including diversity of types/visibility of disabilities and veterans with disabilities.  Nominees may include the following types of individuals:

  • Small business owners who have lead efforts to hire workers with disabilities, including workers with significant disabilities, and who have hired and retained one or more workers with significant disabilities and a worker(s) who are helping to build that business while gaining middle class security.
  • Managers within large or medium sized employers who have developed effective initiatives for the hiring, retention and/or promotion of people with disabilities, including workers with significant disabilities.
  • Entrepreneurs with significant disabilities who have established successful businesses and are now employing others in a successful venture.
  • Leaders within companies or organizations who have disclosed hidden disabilities and have initiated efforts to educate others about employment of people with disabilities.
  • Public/private partnerships between employers and a state or local governments, colleges, foundations, or other entities that have developed effective collaborative initiatives focused on increasing competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities, including people with significant disabilities.

Nominate a Disability Employment Champion of Change (be sure to choose Disability Employment in the “Theme of Service” field of the nomination form).

As we approach National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), held each October, DirectEmployers will continue to educate and build awareness around disability employment issues and educational opportunities for employers. If you know of other upcoming efforts or resources, please comment and share them below!

5 Technology Disruptions and How They Can Help in Recruiting and Attracting Diverse Candidates

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

How many times have you heard that recruiting is marketing? It’s an important concept for employers to try and understand if they want to remain competitive and attract the best candidates.

In last week’s blog post I mentioned that our marketing team recently attended the Mixwest Conference, an annual two-day event focused on marketing, social media, design and tech. Our team’s primary goal was to return with ideas on enhancing our marketing strategy for DirectEmployers, however much of what we learned is applicable to recruiting and attracting diverse candidates.

Several thought-provoking ideas for me came from a breakout session called 5 Technology Trends Disrupting Consumer Behavior, presented by ExactTarget’s Kyle Lacy. As Kyle shared his insight and perspective on consumers, I couldn’t help but think of how pertinent the information is when it comes to attracting job seekers and understanding their behavior. Here are the five trends he discussed:

1) Moments Matter. Lacy described a recent trip to Asia where he experienced a fully automatic toilet; he even provided us a picture in his PowerPoint. This toilet had a side panel with buttons for heat, music, light, fountains and a push button for the lid. Now that is creating a moment! So what’s a toilet have to do with job seekers? In recruiting we are usually facing extremely tight deadlines, which doesn’t allow opportunity to reflect on what kind of moment we are creating for our candidates. Have we streamlined the online apply process? Could we make it easier for job seekers to locate our jobs?

Lacy played an impactful YouTube video featuring an interview snippet from Conan O’Brien with Louis C.K. about how amazing everything is right now, but that nobody’s happy. Today’s advanced technology provides such great comfort that job seekers have become spoiled and have certain expectations about how easy it should be to apply for a job.

Starbucks understands how important moments can be for our veterans and military as these individuals face unique challenges returning to civilian work. Through their customized veteran/military focused career site, Starbucks provides search functionality for entering a military occupation code that will provide a list of corresponding civilian jobs within their organization. This customized solution makes it extremely easy for returning military to understand where their skills might fit within the civilian jobs available.

2.) Rise of Mobility. The iPhone and Android share the majority of the mobile market. According to Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends Report cited by Lacy, “Smartphone has a massive growth potential with currently only 30% of all mobile users.” Understanding the impact that mobile has on job seeker behavior is vital. Is your website responsive to mobile? Are your job seekers able to access your jobs via mobile? Can they apply via mobile? If not, you might be losing talent to your competitors.

According to ExactTarget’s 2014 Japan Consumer Insights Report, “…out of the 74% of Japanese consumers intending to upgrade their phone, 99.5% will be upgrading to a smartphone.” The world is getting smart when it comes to mobile – are you keeping up? Lacy also shared an interesting spin on a mobile app that has helped a Latin American company blow past their competitors.

My.jobs MicrositesPhillips 66, Hyatt and Aetna are great examples of employers that recognize the significance of this rise in mobile, and have incorporated responsive design into their career site development to provide a seamless experience to job seekers across any type of mobile device.

3.) Personalization and Automation of Brand.

Return Path research shows that 41% of consumers buy more from brands that send personalized emails based on past buying behaviors. Lacy shared how Cover Girl has implemented a Virtual Makeup Studio to personalize their products. Consumers can upload their photo and virtually “try-on” makeup. This is creating a high conversion rate for repeat customers for Cover Girl.

Competing in today’s market can be daunting. How are you helping your employment brand stand out? Have you considered how important it is to attract diverse candidates? Are you personalizing your brand for these hard-to-find job seekers?

REI, the West Coast based outdoor retailer, has capitalized on personalizing their brand with an attractive career website, incorporating many of their own employees throughout the photos and content. Candidates can browse the many customized sites and get a true sense of what it is like to have a long-time career with their incredible company.

4.) Collaborative Economy. Lacy described the phases of Internet sharing as: A. Internet Era; B. Social Media Age; and C. Collaborative Economy Age. What is collaborative economy? It is an economy model where creation, ownership and access are shared between people and corporations. These are the same founding principles and 13 years of operating guidelines for DirectEmployers Association. Members of DirectEmployers are in good company with other collaborative economy companies like AirBNB, Uber, Feastly, TaskRabbit and Lending Club. Lacy explained that within a collaborative economy, the “crowd” is becoming like a company and bypasses inefficient organizations (like job boards). As a result, companies are resilient, connected, empowering others, efficient, and profitable.

5.) Connected Products. This includes technology like the Fitbit, Google Glass and miCoach by Adidas. There are even shoes developed for the blind/visually impaired with GPS technology to provide direction as well as independence. Lacy again referenced Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends Report and shared that sensors are rising rapidly at +34% year over year growth with 8 BILLION units shipped in 2013.

As technology evolves, so must our recruitment and branding. Understanding that consumers are job seekers, then making that connection between consumer behavior and job seeker behavior is important in helping you plan your future strategy.

Check out more examples of great brands that have embraced trending technologies on CaseStudy.jobs.

What other technologies have you seen trending? How has your company integrated it into your recruitment branding and processes? Please post your comment below!


RISE to the Occasion: Creating Excellence in College Recruitment

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

At our 2013 Annual Meeting and Conference, we debuted our first ever Member Awards Competition to call attention to our Members’ initiatives in the areas of recruitment, technology and OFCCP compliance.

We were wowed by the submissions and fantastic results that companies shared from their various campaigns. One such entrant, which tied Schlumberger’s Steel Toes to Stilettos entry to win the Recruitment Tier 2 category, was J.B. Hunt Transport, and their RISE Rotational Development Program. This initiative required J.B. Hunt to prepare and fast track employees to assume leadership positions due to a quickly expanding business segment.

Based in Lowell, Arkansas J.B. Hunt is one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America and has built a reputation as a safe and reliable transportation company that services a diverse customer base throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. In addition to their asset-based highway and intermodalservices, J.B. Hunt developed a new transportation brokerage business segment called Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS). The RISE Rotational Development Program was created in turn to help staff the ICS business segment, helping to further prepare and fast track employees to assume leadership and other key roles within the new segment at several locations across the nation.

With a lofty revenue goal of one billion dollars by 2016, finding the right individuals to staff the various ICS branches was crucial to its success. After careful planning, J.B. Hunt determined the target audience of the RISE program to be college graduates with a bachelor’s degree in business, sales, marketing or related disciplines. Additional preferences were that the candidates needed to have graduated with a 3.0 GPA from a four year accredited college or university, been involved in student organizations, and at least six months of relevant work experience.

J.B. Hunt RISE Program

Not only was the RISE Rotational Development Program a new initiative for J.B. Hunt, but it also required a complete process restructure and a paradigm shift when it came to recruiting these hires. To help recruiters further connect with their target audience, they launched a RISE Facebook page that better linked the new graduates with one another, before and after they joined the program. Through this page, graduates became better acquainted with their peers and learned about the local area, which made moving to an unfamiliar area seem more like an adventure than a step into the unknown.

By implementing the RISE Rotational Development Program, J.B. Hunt has seen phenomenal results:

  • 93 candidates have been brought to Lowell for onsite interviews, and 63 offers have been extended, for a 68% offer rate
  • 42 offers have been accepted, for a 67% acceptance rate
  • Cost per hire has decreased further to $1,448

We’d like to congratulate J.B. Hunt on the creation and implementation of their RISE program! Adding a new business segment and overhauling your recruitment program is a huge undertaking and we applaud your efforts.

If you’re ready to showcase your company’s success, take a moment and submit your organization in the DirectEmployers 2014 Member Awards competition! We’d love to see your initiatives and give you a chance to stake your claim as “best in class.” Visit the Member Awards website to learn more and watch for new posts featuring past award winners.