Diversability

Diversability is an award-winning social enterprise to rebrand disability through the power of community.

Diversability is an award-winning movement to rebrand disability through the power of community.

Introducing the Disability Community to Salesforce with #Trailhead4All

By Tiffany Yu

Almost 6 months ago in September, I was a recipient of a scholarship to attend the CMX Summit, the world's largest gathering of the community industry. One of the speakers at the Summit, Erica Kuhl, was the VP of Community at Salesforce and she spoke about how the community had rallied behind Trailhead, a new approach to learning Salesforce online.

Two things really stuck out to me:

  1. According to a recent IDC report, the "Salesforce economy" will enable the creation of 3.3 million jobs over the next 5 years.
  2. A member of the Salesforce community, Annie Shek, created #Trailhead4All, community-hosted events that use Trailhead to teach Salesforce skills to underrepresented communities.

With October -- and National Disability Employment Awareness Month -- just around the corner, I had been thinking about how in 2016, 27.7% of adult Americans with disabilities were employed. On top of that, adults with disabilities were twice as likely to live in poverty as those without a disability.

 (Image description: screenshot of a Facebook post I shared in our Diversability community dated September 19, 2017. It reads, "There's a study that Salesforce is going to create 1.9 million jobs by 2020 (source). You can get certified online. I think this is a powerful opportunity for our community to gain some important specialized skills for the future. Full disclosure: I learned this from a presentation from someone who works at Salesforce.)

(Image description: screenshot of a Facebook post I shared in our Diversability community dated September 19, 2017. It reads, "There's a study that Salesforce is going to create 1.9 million jobs by 2020 (source). You can get certified online. I think this is a powerful opportunity for our community to gain some important specialized skills for the future. Full disclosure: I learned this from a presentation from someone who works at Salesforce.)

So, there's going to be demand for Salesforce skills (at competitive pay) and the employment rate for people with disabilities is heartbreakingly low? 

I put two and two together and this seemed like a game-changer for our community -- introduce the disability community to in-demand Salesforce tech skills to close the disability employment gap.

The week after the Summit, I found myself at a reception with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. I was so excited about my idea and in all my nervousness and awkwardness, I shared with him my vision to bring Salesforce skills to the disability community.

I don't know about you, but when you tell the CEO of a company you are going to do something, you have to do it.

That week, I started to see how I could get in touch with Erica or Annie. Erica luckily saw one of my posts on social media and offered to connect. Two of my friends, Kathy and Norm, were connected with Annie on LinkedIn. Introductions were made and we agreed we would stay in touch until I had a better idea of when we could host #Trailhead4All and how many people would be in attendance.

I started mentioning this idea to everyone and anyone who would listen. One person who listened was Jack Hogan, who leads an initiative to help highly skilled people on the Autism Spectrum find tech jobs. He mentioned that I should check out JobTrain (they launched an instructor-led course on Salesforce) and connect with the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), an employment and independent living resource for people with disabilities.

It just so happened that Theresa Woo, the San Francisco District Administrator for CA DOR would be the guest speaker at the AASCEND meeting in early October. I remember sharing my idea to Theresa and the group.

"And who are you?" Theresa asked.

The thing is, I don't work for Salesforce, I'm not Salesforce certified (yet), and I don't work at an agency or company focused on disability employment. I'm just a person who saw an opportunity and seized it.

Not being any of those things has made this process a bit more challenging at times, but in January, we started planning the first #Trailhead4All workshop for the disability community. It's happening this Friday in San Francisco with more than 40 Trailblazers with disabilities registered to attend (we had to cap it due to venue limitations), also making this the largest #Trailhead4All.

While something like this takes 1-2 champions to spearhead it, there is a village who has helped make this happen:

  • Erica and Alex from Salesforce and everyone who helped us secure space at Salesforce
  • Annie and the Bay Area Salesforce community, for volunteering their time to coordinate volunteer and serve as instructors and teaching assistants
  • Theresa and Charlene from the Department of Rehabilitation, who shared this workshop with their customers and clients
  • Daniel and Adam from Abilityforce (Salesforce's community for employees with disabilities and allies), who have helped make sure our event is accessible for everyone
  • ...and everyone else who has helped share or supported this event!

And hopefully this is just the beginning. If you're like me, chances are we can bring this to your community too.