By Joan Leotta
Shoes. Some love them, obsess about them, spend small fortunes collecting and wearing them. Others just find them a practical necessity. But some, like the executives at Clarks Companies, N.A., use their passion for shoes not just to share quality footwear with the world but also to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the communities where they operate.
Jim Salzano, Interim President of Clarks, says, “We have found that capabilities, passion and commitment to work are not defined by what some call ‘disabilities.’” For Clarks, this mission of “standing tall” involves recognizing “a responsibility to help in the communities in which we live and work… [as] an important part of the way we do business.”
The Power of Triangle
Clarks’ efforts to employ people with disabilities stem from the company’s relationship with the Massachusetts-based employment advocacy group Triangle, Inc. Serving more than 3,000 people with disabilities from 170 communities throughout Southern New England, Triangle offers an award-winning School-to-Career program, career placement services and an array of life development services for youth and adults with disabilities.
“Most of the people served come to Triangle for training to establish a career or live a more independent and meaningful life in their own community,” says Triangle CEO Michael A. Rodrigues. Providing this type of opportunity is where Clarks comes in.
In 1997 Bob Infantino, then Clarks President, joined Triangle’s Board of Directors. Rodrigues notes that Infantino “toured our Malden headquarters and was amazed by the opportunities for career and personal development that Triangle offered.” Since that time many Clarks executives, including the currently serving, Interim President Jim Salzano and Senior Vice President for Retail Bob Miller, have served on Triangle’s Board and worked with the organization to develop creative strategies for helping Triangle’s target populations enter the workforce. [Read more…]