In an inspiring leap forward for corporate inclusivity, Premium Service Brands (PSB) is launching a new program at its Charlottesville, Virginia, headquarters by hiring an adult from the special needs community. The initiative reflects PSB’s commitment to diversity and marks a significant stride in redefining workplace inclusivity in the franchising industry.
A Personal Mission for PSB’s CEO
For Paul Flick, chief executive of PSB, the new program is more than just a corporate responsibility — it’s a personal mission. Flick’s 15-year-old daughter, Anne, has special needs. Anne is currently thriving in the ninth grade at Oakland School and has a passion for babysitting.
“As the father of a special needs child, I understand the importance of providing meaningful opportunities for adults with disabilities,” Flick shared. “Our new program will give individuals in the special needs community a chance to contribute, grow, and find fulfillment.”
Including an adult with disabilities on the PSB team is expected to bring a fresh perspective and enrich the company’s culture. PSB expects the new program to strengthen employee morale and enhance the work environment. The presence of employees with disabilities often enhances a culture of empathy, understanding, and teamwork among all staff and helps solidify a supportive workplace.
“Diversity in the workplace fosters creativity, innovation, and empathy,” explained Vivi Nellen, PSB’s vice president of communications. “We’re excited to welcome our new team members and learn from their unique experiences and insights.”
PSB is the franchisor of nine home services brands, including 360° Painting, ProLift Garage Doors, Maid Right, and Window Gang.
The new initiative is an extension of the home services franchisor’s non-profit arm, Kids-Lift, which has been instrumental in supporting local communities. Kids-Lift focuses on ensuring all children have equal opportunities. It partners with PSB’s franchise owners across the United States and Canada to give back, addressing poverty and hunger by hosting food and clothing drives, fulfilling teacher wish lists, and upgrading kid-focused facilities. PSB’s new hiring program marks a natural progression of the Kids-Lift mission by expanding its impact to include adults with disabilities and providing them with meaningful employment opportunities.
Preparing for the Launch
To ensure the success of this program, PSB tapped the knowledge and experience of Reagan Stillerman of Stillerman Consulting Group. Stillerman has extensive experience in special education and working with adults with disabilities. She is also the director of operations for Kindness Cafe + Play, a local coffee shop employing individuals with cognitive disabilities. Stillerman is playing a pivotal role in preparing for the launch of the new program at PSB.
“Kindness Cafe has shown us the incredible impact that employment can have on adults with disabilities,” Stillerman said. “At PSB, we’re implementing a similar model, focusing on creating a supportive and inclusive work environment.”
Before joining the Kindness Cafe team, Stillerman spent more than 19 years as an educator for children with disabilities. She learned firsthand the struggles young adults face when they graduate from public school. Working enables members of the special needs community to achieve financial independence and establish a daily routine. It helps them build lasting and meaningful relationships and allows them to grow and be a part of something bigger.
PSB is taking steps to prepare for the launch of the new program during the first quarter of 2024. To get started, the PSB team is identifying roles and responsibilities that can be effectively managed by an adult with disabilities.
“Our goal is to find tasks that not only provide meaningful work for our new employees but also complement the skills and strengths they bring to the table,” Stillerman added.
The initiative by PSB comes at a time when inclusive employment is gaining more attention. The number of employed individuals with disabilities climbed to 7.6 million in June, the highest since June 2008. The trend highlights the increasing opportunities for people with disabilities in the workforce.
Despite the progress, individuals with disabilities still face significant barriers to employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2022, the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was nearly twice as high as for those without a disability. PSB’s program aims to address these challenges by providing a supportive work environment and necessary accommodations.
A Model for Other Companies
Premium Service Brands’ new program is a testament to the company’s dedication to making a real difference in the lives of people in the community. By providing employment opportunities to adults with disabilities, PSB is enriching its corporate culture and setting a standard for inclusivity and diversity in the franchising industry. PSB’s initiative serves as an inspiring model for other companies.
“We hope to show that with the right support and opportunities, individuals with disabilities can thrive in the workplace,” Flick said. “Our program is about breaking down barriers and changing perceptions.”
As PSB prepares to welcome its new team member, the excitement is palpable. “This is just the beginning,” Nellen said. “We’re committed to making our workplace more inclusive and hope to inspire other companies to do the same.”