Since its opening in 1981, the Long Island Marriott Hotel has hired people with disabilities and placed them in a variety of positions. Through the years, hotel management has created and offered mentoring opportunities, work experiences, internships, practice interviews and actual job placement within the hotel for hundreds of people with disabilities. Management’s focus has been both on young adults as they transition from school to work, as well as people who are significantly older, covering an age range of 15 to older than 65.
“Our experience has been very positive,” says Lourdes Bobnis, HR Director at the hotel. “[These employees] are reliable, ready to work and assimilate with the rest of the workforce quickly.” Bobnis acknowledges that contributing to the hotel’s success is the flexibility in work hours that they are able to provide, accommodating people’s individual challenges and providing the technology, like computer access aids for employees with low vision, needed to get the job done.
train, place and support their employees who have disabilities. One program partner is Abilities, Inc. at the Viscardi Center, an agency that helps people with disabilities throughout the New York metropolitan area find and retain employment.
Bobnis says the Long Island Marriott’s commitment to an inclusive workforce is representative of the entire Marriott International corporation. “Since 1927, when J. Willard Marriott opened a 9-seat root beer stand in Washington DC, ‘putting people first’ has been part of Marriott’s DNA,” she says.
His family established the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities; its mission is to foster the employment of young people with disabilities. The foundation provides support for a program called “Bridges from School to Work” that engages employers, schools, community resources, youth and their families to help businesses meet their workforce needs while offering young people with disabilities the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed through employment.
Each year, Bridges helps more than a thousand young people, most of whom are transitioning out of high school special education, to prepare for the workplace and find a job with an employer in need of entry-level workers. Bridges supplies the Long Island Marriott and other Marriott hotels with employees with disabilities who do a variety of jobs including housekeeping, kitchen staff, parking lot attendants and customer service positions.