Ben Wright began seeing the world differently when his two youngest children were born with Down syndrome.
He realized educational and career opportunities would be much tougher to come by for kids that are deemed less able to succeed in the eyes of society, so he decided to leave his job at a Wall Street firm and ensure a future for children like his own.
"What we noticed was -- at about age 21, 22, 23, at least here in North Carolina -- folks with (intellectual and developmental disabilities) just sort of fell off the grid," he told HuffPost Live on Tuesday. "We selfishly didn't want our children to be in the same spot years going forward, so we thought we'd put our money where our mouth is, and make our professional lives as authentic as our personal lives."
Wright's new venture, Dye Creek Capital, would function differently than most other companies. The first thing the businessman did was hire nine adults who have some sort of intellectual or developmental disability, or IDD, to help the office run smoothly. As hospitality associates, Wright's first employees greet clients, offer them something to drink, and even give gifts -- like homemade granola or flowers grown in the garden outside -- to visitors, he told HuffPost Live.
Wright said his employees with IDD are fantastic, capable, and reliable workers who always make it in to the office on time.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12.3 percent of people with disabilities were unemployed in September (well above the rate of people without disabilities), the Institute for Corporate Productivity discovered about 70 percent of people specifically with IDD are unemployed. However, a survey released by the institute earlier this month revealed organizations that have hired people with IDD give those workers high marks in terms of attendance records, attention to work quality and productivity. What's more, hiring them helped their bottom lines, too.
Jeffrie Blaylock, one of Wright's hospitality associates, said it's a positive feeling knowing he's valued by his employer.
"There were a lot of people that I've met that always were telling me, 'I can't do this, I cannot do that,'" Blaylock told HuffPost Live. "It was a great feeling [to be hired at Dye Creek Capital], because I felt like good people believed in me."