AMC Theaters’ FOCUS Program: A working model for inclusive hiring

Want to know more about what AMC Theaters are doing to make their workplace more inclusive? This PDF outlines  AMC’s FOCUS program, which in 2010 set out to develop a “workforce development project” in collaboration with the Autism Society.  We hope the program will serve as a working model for other companies who are looking to broaden their hiring horizons. That said, we’re not completely on board with some of their comments on the role of “Job Coaches”. We strongly believe that our Employment Consultants are instrumental in the efficacy of the customized/supported employment model. While the language this article uses to discuss the program at times leaves something to be desired, there are a number of practical approaches that the FOCUS program has implemented company-wide that we completely support.  Overall, since its inception, the FOCUS program has served to diversify AMC’s corporate culture and remove barriers to application and employment, without lowering expectations for applicants who identify as having a disability.

Our hard working Employment Consultants know all too well the many barriers presented by the traditional application process utilized by businesses of all sizes.  Often times they fill out dozens of applications with the person seeking a job, and rarely get a bite from any the many applications they submit. Out of the high volume of applications they submit, they may hear back from one or two employers, only to go through the interview process and then be told that they’ve decided to go a different route because the job seeker cannot perform the entire job description.  This road block, and the fact that many people do not have much prior work history, makes it very difficult to stand out or even be considered as a candidate, even though they may be a great fit with a slight adjustment or accommodation.

One idea that AMC adopted in planning the FOCUS program is what they call the “traveling interview.” This means taking an applicant on a walking tour of the theater with the General Manager. What a great concept! Perhaps this is an approach that could be adopted for individuals of all backgrounds and abilities to better alleviate the pressure of the traditional interviewing style. Who wouldn’t be more comfortable strolling along side a potential employer through the work setting rather than stuck in a chair in a stuffy office?

If you are interested in more stories about inclusive employers or customized employment techniques, please refer to our blog post, which links to Customized Employment documents provided by our colleagues at Griffin Hammis. We also featured a piece in honor of Inclusive recognizing some of the inclusive employers in the Twin Cities Metro area who we have had the pleasure of working with.

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