Bank of America Support Services is an in-house marketing and fulfillment operation made up of 300 employees with intellectual disabilities, who support every major line of business within the enterprise.
In the United States, there are an estimated 6.5 million individuals, or 1-3% of the population, who have an intellectual disability (Special Olympics, 2017). When the Support Services division was originally established over 25 years ago, executives at Bank of America were committed to hiring a large number of employees with intellectual disabilities, knowing there were a variety of functions that could be accomplished by this unique employee group. After consulting with business leaders and operations teams, they determined that Bank of America could move external work to an internal team. Initially, this was letter printing and mailing. After success with those endeavors, Support Services grew to establish large format printing, screen printing, warehouse operations, data entry projects and even engraving work.
Now, Support Services gives individuals facing barriers to employment the opportunity to achieve financial stability and become successful members of their communities. In addition to providing dignified work, Support Services also provides connection to agencies and counseling services to assist employees with health care enrollment, transportation challenges, retirement planning and financial management. “Support Services is one way we are creating an environment where all employees, including those with disabilities, have an opportunity to succeed and achieve their goals and is a demonstration of our broader commitment to strong environmental, social and governance practices,” says Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman of Bank of America.
And Support Services truly is changing lives. As employee Tommy Fields states, “At Bank of America, I am not looked down on. I am happy to come to work, and I love all the people I come in contact with; they are all my friends, even the managers.”
In addition to Support Services, Bank of America is demonstrating their commitment to responsible growth and an inclusive workforce through their hiring practices and nonprofit partnerships that advance a pipeline of diverse talent.
- Since 2012, Bank of America has invested over $30 million in nonprofits helping those with barriers to employment secure basic needs, receive workforce training and pursue entrepreneurship.
- Bank of America provided leadership seed funding for the Unlocked Futures Accelerator, connected to John Legend’s Free America, which supports formerly incarcerated social entrepreneurs as they develop innovative ways to help the formerly incarcerated rebuild their lives.
- Bank of America’s signature philanthropic program Neighborhood Builders advances economic mobility and nonprofit leadership. Through this program, they work with many organizations, like Catalyst Kitchens, to break down barriers to employment.
- Bank of America has been a strategic and philanthropic partner to SEA, critical to our success of building the field of social enterprise and supporting opportunity employment social enterprises.