MY THOUGHTS ON THE Disability Employment Rate
Often when people meet me and get to see a little bit of what my personality is like, they’re really surprised that I couldn’t find a job before I started my own company. That literally no one would hire me. They say things like, “I don’t get it. You’re very smart and sassy and outgoing, you work extremely hard, you think nothing of baking your cookies sometimes starting at 3:30 in the afternoon and not getting done until 11 at night, you’re handing out your business card and talking about your company everywhere you go. I wish I could be as great of a self-promoter as you are! How could no one have seen this potential?”
But it’s actually true. Before I started my company, I’d go on several interviews and they’d keep me there for hours to chat. I’d always leave feeling like I’d crushed it and the job was mine. But when I’d follow up, they’d always say stuff like “it was great meeting you, Collette, but at this time we feel you aren’t the right fit for us”. They never said it was about my disability, but it still seemed obvious that that’s what it was really about. Because why? My story is the same as so many other people in America (and likely the rest of the world, too) who have a disability. About 80% of Americans with a disability are unemployed.
A lot of them have great personality traits, just like the ones that people all over the world started to see in me once my story was shared with so many people. Many of them are really skilled at particular things, and everybody has some kind of ability they can share with the world and help other people with. They all want to work hard, and are loyal to the places that give them the opportunity. They just need a chance.
People also say to me often, “I’m so glad you’re making a living with your cookies”. I think maybe people buy my cookies and follow my story because they feel bad for me, having Down’s Syndrome. I tell them they’re missing the point. I was always going to have a great life, with or without my cookies. I have the most amazing support system in the world with my mom and sister. My cookie company isn’t about me. It’s about creating jobs for people with disabilities.
I know how it feels to go on a bunch of job interviews, and get rejected every time. Being a people person, and never giving up, are things that come easily to me. But not everyone with a disability is like that. And not all of them have great people in their lives like my mom and sister who fight so hard for them. All of them deserve a great opportunity to have a paying job and a life they enjoy. Collettey’s is really about being able to offer opportunities to as many people with disabilities as possible. 80% is way too high. Everyone deserves to be seen for their abilities and given a chance.
We wouldn’t be able to give people those chances without your support. Thank you for supporting my mission, and helping me help other people.