VIDEO: PwC tax partner Brad Hopton shares how the firm created the Special Needs Caregiver Circle to provide support to its disabled employees and those taking care of family members, which grew from 10 to 200+ members.
By Tamika Cody
Brad Hopton took on the role of Disability Inclusion Network Partner Champion at PwC after becoming a parent to a child born with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, nearly 10 years ago. As a new parent to a child with special needs, Hopton found that he was faced with many unknowns, and he realized that there were a number of individuals at the firm who were going through similar circumstances. “Ten years ago, I committed and asked, ‘how can I help the next person that goes through a life event like me?’”
Hopton, a tax partner and member of PwC’s disabilities and inclusion strategy council, sat down with DiversityInc to discuss his mission of tapping into the underrepresented talent pool of people with disabilities. It’s a commitment that he said changed his life.
PwC (No. 3 on DiversityInc Top 50 list for 2015) is extremely focused on its message of diversity and its mission of inclusion, Hopton said, especially when it comes to people with disabilities and those who care for them.
“Some individuals with disabilities worked at PwC, but most of them were caregivers of individuals with special needs,” Hopton recalled of the time when he made the commitment to help fellow colleagues. “It really started PwC on the journey in terms of disabilities and inclusion at that point and time. This is the grassroots phase to our journey over the past 10 years.”
In 2014, Hopton was recognized for his advocacy and commitment in support of mainstreaming disability. During a video interview with DiversityInc, Hopton shared how important it is for the disabled, not only to have a place in the workforce, but a thriving professional career. He describes PwC as “the employer of choice for people with disabilities.”
The firm started to formulate its vision of how it wanted to help its employees with disabilities and those who were caregivers to family members with special needs. The firm started to conduct monthly conference calls, hold local meetings and soon gained support from the PwC’s office of diversity, which helped form the Special Needs Caregiver Circle.
“That is when we really started to grow organically,” said Hopton. “We quickly found ourselves [grow] from 10 to 15 partners and staff all the way up to 200-plus members in the Special Needs Caregiver Circle.”
Hopton said he knew the group was onto something. They decided to partner with external organizations to learn more about what their missions were. “We began mentoring days, where we would bring in individuals with disabilities into the firm so that we could share our experiences and they can learn a little bit more about the PwC experience and life at a professional services firm,” Hopton said. Shortly thereafter, the firm’s vision to focus more on people with disabilities soon started to materialize.