‘The Exchange Has Always Been in My Corner’: A Salute to National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Mimi Moore has advice for those who are unsure of how to approach people with disabilities.

“Treat them like you would anyone else,” the Offutt Exchange recruiting manager said. “Get to know them on a personal level. Some days are good days and some days are bad days; we’re just like anyone else.”

As the Exchange observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, Moore understands the value of an inclusive workforce.

Mimi Moore, recruiting manager at the Offutt Air Force Base Exchange, said recruiting associates from diverse backgrounds helps the Exchange operate more efficiently.

“A diverse, well-rounded workforce helps the Exchange operate more efficiently,” said Moore, who is on the board of directors of Little People of America. “The Exchange has always been in my corner and molded me into the person I am today.”

Hiring disabled associates is vital to the Exchange’s mission, said Dr. Patrick Oldenburgh, senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

“The Exchange is proud of our inclusive culture, which encourages all associates to work toward achieving their greatest potential,” Oldenburgh said. “The Exchange is a leader in disability recruitment in the military resale community, and I am proud of the work we have done in creating opportunities for success.”

About 14% of the Exchange workforce includes people with disabilities, which exceeds goals established in 2018 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition, about 4% of the Exchange’s associates have targeted disabilities, which are considered more serious health conditions. The Department of Defense also has set a goal for its agencies that 2% of the workforce be made up of people with targeted disabilities.

A diverse and inclusive workforce benefits associates and shoppers alike, said Valerie Wagoner, the Exchange’s associate Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion officer.

“Many of our customers have disabilities and their families do, too, and they should see people who look like them,” she said. “Companies that don’t actively recruit workers with disabilities are turning away a large segment of our population and a well-trained workforce.”

Moore has been with the Exchange for six years and was recruited through the Department of Labor’s Workforce Recruitment Program, which helps disabled college students find jobs and internships.

After she started at headquarters in HR, she moved to Offutt so she could live in her husband’s home state.

“The Exchange hired me and was gracious enough to transfer me when I needed to move to Nebraska,” Moore said. “It is a real benefit to work for an organization that actively recruits people like me. It’s a signal that we are inclusive and welcoming of people from all walks of life.”

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