In honor of Veterans Day, we’re taking a moment to thank all veterans for their service and sacrifice. Veterans often have difficulties finding jobs, and a large percentage of veterans self-identify as having a disability, which can make it even more of a challenge to find meaningful careers. In August 2021, it was reported that 44 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-connected disability, compared with 27 percent of all veterans.
Ross Barchacky, 17-year Army veteran and Director of Partnerships at Inclusively, was featured recently on the podcast, Put Veterans to Work. The host, Keith Hannaleck, interviews individuals that support the veteran community and their families by sharing resources about opportunities for jobs, organizations, and anything else related to veterans. During the podcast, Ross spoke about his time in the military, his traumatic brain injury, and the work he does at Inclusively.
Meet Ross: Employee number 10
After 17 years in the service, a life-altering accident, and 18 months in a rehabilitation facility, Ross was in the process of trying to figure out the next chapter of his life, and he began working with career coaches to re-enter the workforce. “Even with all the support, I found it difficult to try and connect with employers, while also being open and transparent about my disability and what I needed to be successful in the workplace,” explains Ross.
Luckily, one of his career coaches recommended Inclusively. “I went to the website, and maybe about halfway through my profile creation I just fell in love with the mission and what they were doing, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to be a part of this’,” says Ross.
We realize that diversity, equity inclusion is a journey and not a destination.
— Ross Barchacky, Director of Partnerships, Inclusively
Leading with accommodations
Inclusively was created to help organizations create thriving workplaces that are open and inclusive to all. In addition to connecting candidates with disabilities to work, Inclusively also empowers companies to support workers with disabilities by emphasizing and embedding workplace accommodations into hiring and retention processes.
“Inclusively is so different from anything, even the disability job boards that I’ve been to prior, as [Inclusively] asks you what accommodations you need, and that gets built directly into your profile,” shared Ross. “And then on top of that, Inclusively works with all these employers, provides training and coaching on the accommodations process, and then works directly with the recruiters and hiring managers to make sure that they understand veterans in general.”
For Ross, his accommodations as a disabled veteran includes having a service dog, using otter.ai for note taking and reminders, and taking periodic rest breaks. Accommodations look different for all veterans, and many of them are less than $500 or free to implement like those that Ross requires. Companies that lead on workplace accommodations also lead on recruiting.
Adding inclusion into every step of the hiring process
In the digital age, applying for jobs is becoming easier and easier, which means companies are now getting thousands of applications for an open position at any given time. While Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are extremely helpful to recruiters for this reason, the downside is that they’re catered towards the majority. In fact, 99% of organizations rely on an ATS and applicant tracking system that weeds out candidates with disabilities.
“That’s another thing that we work on with new employers. We help bring this issue to their attention, and it’s also something we’re working on on the back end as well with these ATS partners,” says Ross. Other practices Inclusively teaches companies include interview accommodations.
For companies looking to create more inclusive environments, diversity, equity and inclusion practices should include people with disabilities, but implementing accommodations will create a more inclusive environment for everyone, including veterans. Discover more ways to bridge the gap to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Keith Hannaleck 0:07
Hello, everybody, this is Keith handler time with the veterans to work podcast. Tonight we have Ross, Barchacky. I’m sorry, Ross. I didn’t I didn’t say your name right, did I?
Ross Barchacky 0:23
No, it’s perfect, Barchacky. Nobody gets it right.
Unknown Speaker 0:27
Barchacky. And he’s a 17 year Army veteran. And he suffered a traumatic brain injury and had three rods put in his back and his left hip fused. And obviously, that was a life changing event. And he has quite a story. And he’s now working for this company called Inclusively, which brings in talent from all over United States with people have disabilities. So, Ross, welcome aboard. And we’d like to hear your story.
Ross Barchacky 1:01
Yeah, of course. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah, as you mentioned, you know, I, my story isn’t, is most might expect when I tell people that I’ve been in for 17 years, I get a lot of weird looks. And I couldn’t make it to 20. Because he’s, you know, that’s that that magic number. But yeah, I had plans to go and do it. I think most people do when they retire from the military go work for a government agency and, you know, transition into a role that tastes and smells very much like what they were doing in the service. And I was about five years away from retirement, I was on an airborne operation, the wind shifted before my feet hit the ground, my head touched first, I spent 18 months in one of the Army’s rehabilitation facilities or soldier recovery units at Fort Lewis and Washington state, and had a lot of time to sort of reevaluate what the the next chapter of my life was going to look like. I worked with career coaches, the SRU, if anybody out there has dealt with them, they’re they’re absolutely wonderful. Everything is sort of in house there for helping soldiers who’ve undergone some sort of injury, to successfully make that transition. But even with all the support that they had, I still found it difficult to try and connect in with employers, while also being open and transparent about my disability, what I need now sort of to be successful in the workplace, my resume and my plans got sort of fragmented and you know, not down the path I was looking for. So I was I was trying to make up ground as I was getting ready to retire. Also recovering from my injuries, I have a service dog now, I use a lot of technology to make sure that I remember things the thing the way that I think I do. And it just, I need a lot of reminders, there’s just a different way that I go about sort of doing things. So as I was transitioning my career counselor at the VA, actually was the one that helped sort of point out inclusively. To me, it was a sort of brand new site that did things a little bit differently, they actually went and they helped employers to really prepare themselves to sort of do intentional disability hiring, because while there’s so many nonprofits, government agencies, and all of that doing great and wonderful work out there, really, for the candidate for the job seeker, there’s nothing that really prepares the employer, to receive them, and to accommodate them and to have sort of this inclusive environment. So I went to this website, maybe about halfway through my profile creation, and just fell in love with the mission and what they were doing. It was so different from anything, even the disability job boards that I’ve been to prior to and not had much success, they asked you what accommodations you need, and that gets built directly into your profile. So I could let everybody know that I have a service dog, I could let everybody know that I use otter.ai for, you know, note taking or whatever it was that I that I might need reminders or periodic rest breaks or whatever it is. And then on top of that, Inclusively goes out and they work with all these employers, they provide them training, and they provide them coaching on their accommodations process, and they work directly with the recruiters and hiring managers to make sure that, you know, is you understand is, you know, like, just veterans in general, it can be difficult to hire them with, you know, translating skills and things like that. And then there’s just a whole new layer. What do you add on top of that somebody that needs special accommodations? So they’re prepared for it? Yeah. So I made it as I said, about halfway through the process of filling out and I was I got to be a part of this. You know, there were a bunch of employers on there that I wanted to work with, but I knew that I, you know, I believe you know, be the change you want wanna see in the world and so I reached out to them. And it turns out, they were hiring for an entry level sales position. And I thought, what better way to sort of try it try and you know, pay it forward and give it back. That to help this organization to spread the word and I got hired, I think it was employee number 10. That was almost two years ago, we’ve grown exponentially since then.
Ross Barchacky 5:25
And had a lot of success, I actually just recently moved over from the business development side over to the partnership side, they had an opening there. And we’re actually in the process of expanding out. So we started with individuals with disabilities, because a big part of what we do is sort of surrounds the accommodations piece. But we want to continue moving out to other demographics that have had a difficult time in the employment sector, and veterans really being sort of my number one priority with with, with my background. So I just got brought on, and I’m heading up the partnerships now. And we’re continuing to look for new ways to sort of set employers up for success as they’re all sort of, you know, moving towards this diversity, equity and inclusion mindset.
Keith Hannaleck 6:14
Sounds like you’re doing some great work. And, you know, what you did was, turn a tragedy into something that was positive in your life. I mean, look, what you’re doing is just amazing. Really, really, you know, I admire veterans in general. And, you know, I understand the mindset, I’m a veteran myself, but, you know, to talk to somebody like yourself that’s been through such an unfortunate accident, and to be who you are today is really a credit to your wherewithal and your, your attitude. And just, I’m just amazed that somebody could do this, what you’re doing and, and there’s tremendous growth in this company. And, you know, you see logos on logos on here, like Salesforce and Microsoft. And so as far as your partnerships with companies, how does that work? Is there a charge? Or is this a grant funded operation? How does that work?
Ross Barchacky 7:16
Yeah, so we actually, we are a for profit organization. And we’re, we operate off of sort of a two sided marketplace. So on one end of the spectrum, we have our employers, and that’s where sort of the business development team works to bring on new employers and new brands in to really continue offering our services across all industries. And that is where we collect all of our revenue. So we don’t charge anything for job seekers, we don’t charge anything for our advocate partners, which I’ll touch on here in a moment. But specifically for our employers, we operate off of an annual partnership. And we do that for really a couple of reasons. First, because we realize that diversity, equity inclusion is a journey and not a destination. And so we want to sort of have our employers and us make this sort of joint agreement that, hey, we’re going to meet you where you’re at, and we’re going to continue working forward to get you where you want to be. But then also, because we can continue to provide ongoing support. So there’s a lot of solutions out there where, you know, a console consultative company will come in and make recommendations or provide training. And then sort of on the employer to maintain that. In you know, we saw a lot of issues with that, that, hey, that’s great, but six months down the road, you know, when they’re having an issue or they’re they have a hire who has an accommodation they’ve never heard of, it can be difficult to sort of get that support that they need. So we offer not only the training and the consultation, but also that throughout that ongoing partnership, if there’s any sort of questions that any you know, an individual recruiter has or an additional training that they want, they have that at their fingertips, and it’s all included within that that one partnership.
Keith Hannaleck 9:07
You know, this falls right in line with the to our training ahead today on diversity and inclusion. So yeah, and we were talking about people with silent disabilities, and I’m looking at your website here. And it says that 30% of today’s workforce fits the federal definition of having a disability and most are keeping their status a secret. And on top of that 99% of organizations rely on an ATS and applicant tracking system that brings out candidates with disabilities. Wow.
Ross Barchacky 9:42
Yeah, it’s it’s sort of amazing right that applicant tracking systems have done amazing things. Absolutely amazing for recruiters, right who haven’t really hard, right? They’re they’re held against the code or they have to fill these positions they’re getting in. Now with the digital age, applying for jobs becoming easier and easier with just me There’s more and more work on companies to filter through where they’re getting 1000s of applications for any open position at any given time. The downside to applicant tracking systems that, you know, everyone’s really trying to work on right now is, is sort of the fact that they’re, they’re catered towards the majority. So they’re really good at sort of finding a qualified candidate that meets these specific parameters. But the problem with that is that for a lot of times, people that come from the disability community don’t fit those parameters. There’s a lot of barriers to employment. And so the fact that maybe they they took a bad break and employment or a late start, or a non standard career path, those are all things that an AI algorithm could weed out before it even got in front of anybody. And so that’s one of the things that when we’re working with a new employer that we help to sort of bring to their attention is also something we’re working on on the back end as well, sort of with these ATS partners to, you know, really continue trying to provide artificial intelligence that’s inclusive for everyone. We’re in the process of doing it on our site, right now, we have our own algorithm that helps to match candidates with employers, it’s based off of what accommodations they need, and some other qualifications as well, that was designed specifically for this population. But you know, for a lot of larger organizations out there, you know, unfortunately, it’s been a little bit more of an afterthought, and there’s sort of knee jerk reaction to try and catch up. So we’re really working on bridging the gap for that.
Keith Hannaleck 11:40
So, you know, we need more organizations out there with that awareness. And, you know, the training I had today was very helpful to me. It just made me think and, you know, I’ve participated and provided input along with many others, and it was just a really good session that we had, and to be doing this today is like, perfect, but I didn’t time it this way. Honestly, it just happened to work this way, today, this fall right in line. So I’m looking at your page for, you know, for employers. And obviously, one of the first things that an employer would ask, is, what’s the cost? Does that, is that determined by the profile the information that they provide? Or do you have an Can you give us an idea of a range that you charge?
Ross Barchacky 12:31
Yeah, so it is so different than the answer nobody likes. And it really just depends on the organization. I mean, we cater to small nonprofits, we cater to Microsoft. And so you know, having sort of everything in between, it can it can really differentiate sort of what you’re providing. So we do have specific parameters, you know, like most organizations is based a lot off of the demand that it’s going to that it’s going to put on us, because we are more of a high touch solution. Meaning that we provide that ongoing support. Everybody has their own dedicated client success manager that can help to sort of facilitate sort of the back end of, you know, continuing with training and coaching and consultation, it can definitely vary widely.
Keith Hannaleck 13:24
So it must make people feel really good that have been in you know, similar situations in life, and trying to transition out of the military that back into civilian life. You know, veterans in general, are at a disadvantage, unfortunately. Which is so wrong. As far as I’m concerned, I think they should be at an advantage. But then to put something on top of it, where there’s a disability involved. That’s yet another layer, like you had mentioned earlier. So it must have been very rewarding for you to speak to folks like yourself, and to they will actually help them and get them employment.
Ross Barchacky 14:05
It is yeah. And that’s sort of a great segue into some of the other side. I mentioned that two sided marketplace. You know, we’re able to help so many organizations that are already out there doing great work. So when Charlotte Dales, the CEO of Inclusively was coming up for the idea. You know, If any good person who’s thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, she goes and looks at sort of who’s already doing the work out there. In literally 1000s of organizations, nonprofit vocational rehabilitation, veterans, organizations, government organizations, charities, universities with disability specific programs, all working to get these individuals ready for the workforce, right, or to transition them potentially added another job. And so she didn’t want to take away from that, right. She wanted to amplify it. And so the way that we did that, here it inclusively is by creating sort of this unique space. is where we view ourselves as more of a hub than strictly an employer solution. So we partner with organizations at no cost such as everything from the Department of Veterans Affairs I mentioned, we’re I was referred from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, the Arc, Best Buddies, the Easterseals. You know, we’re continuing to build that out. But we have hundreds of organizations across the country that we currently partner with, for the purpose of being able to provide them with sort of an extended reach right out into employers, because for nonprofits, especially in government agencies, we know you’re working off limited resources, it can be very difficult for them to stand up their own employer partnerships. So what we provide for them is a way they can log on, using the example the career my career counselor, he was able to log in to Inclusively, create a profile, and then help other job seekers such as myself to create our own profile, and then is able to make job recommendations because who knows you better than your your career counselor, or the person who’s working with you through Voc Rehab, about what you want to do in life and what you’re qualified to currently do and what your aspirations are, to sort of maybe scale up. So we also offer training opportunities, we work with a lot of different organizations, who provide things like project management certification, or it bootcamp. And all of those individuals can post about their opportunities, whether they’re for veterans, individuals with disabilities both, and they can take advantage of that. So if they come, if a job seeker comes to our site, and is looking for their next opportunity and realizes, Hey, maybe I need a little bit more upskilling to get where I need to be, they can find that directly on our platform as well, in what we offer is completely free. For all advocate organizations, and for all job seekers.
Keith Hannaleck 16:50
That’s great. You sound great. They really should do a commercial, and have you on it. Really
Ross Barchacky 16:59
Appreciate that. I’m passionate about it.
Keith Hannaleck 17:02
Well, obviously, yeah. Veterans tend to be that way I noticed.
Ross Barchacky 17:10
Yeah, yeah. It was probably my time as a recruiter. That’s sort of what I blame all of my social skills on.
Keith Hannaleck 17:19
Oh, right. Yeah. Yeah, that’ll teach you a lot. Being a recruiter. I’ve been doing it over 20 years now myself. And yeah, it took me a long time to find my way down this path. And it’s only been, well, the past probably six years that I’ve been working in the federal space and, you know, built the veteran community out like I have on the veterans to work Web. Which is, oh, thank you. And the LinkedIn work network, which is what provided that platform for me. And it just took off when I was at General Dynamics mission systems. And I, you know, I took it from there to BAE where I’m at now, and it just continues to grow. Really, by itself, I mean, 24/7, I’m adding people all the time. And it’s just, it’s very satisfying to see that happen. And, you know, put veterans to work, I think says that all, that’s what we want to do. And it’s what you want to do. So, you know, we line up really well here. So it’s been a really good overview have given us. And hopefully, a lot of people out there in the community are going to be listening to this podcast and find out about your organization. And I’ll link it on the post tonight, too, when I put that up. And was there anything in particular that you’d like to add before we close out tonight?
Ross Barchacky 18:54
Yeah, I think just you know, if especially for those from the veteran community, you know, I’d like to make myself available. By all means, you know, find me on LinkedIn, if you have any questions or any hesitations transition is hard. It’s, you know, it’s something that they tell you from the day you join the military is that one day you’re gonna have to turn around and in do this in reverse order, and it’s going to be even more difficult than it was sort of getting indoctrinated into the service. You know, so find somebody out there that’s that’s doing it that’s done it that you can lean on that you can ask questions to and I’d be more than happy to be that person for anyone. You know, if they have any questions, whether it’s employment or mental health, or you know, however it’s related.
Keith Hannaleck 19:42
Oh, thank you, Ross. And thank you for your service. Ladies and gentlemen. Ross Barchacky. Bar Sheki. Jackie. Barchacky, you got to put an s after the r.
Ross Barchacky 19:54
Blame Ellis Island.
Keith Hannaleck 20:00
Well thank you very much for your time. And, folks, if you’re listening, go to the inclusively.com, where you will find him. And if you have any kind of disability, and you’re a veteran, please go there and hook up with him. And listen to this podcast. Thanks so much for your time.
Ross Barchacky 20:21
Perfect, thank you.
Keith Hannaleck 20:23
You take care. Bye now.
Ross Barchacky 20:25
You too, bye.