GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– According to a recent study from one of the leading networks for equality and inclusion in the workplace, Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, people with disabilities are significantly less likely to be hired than everyone else.

As part of 7NEWS’ “Community conversations” Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with Tyler Rex, the Executive Director for Thrive Upstate about breaking down the barrier of bias against people with disabilities.

It’s more than a job for Tyler Rex.

He serves as the Executive Director for Thrive Upstate which is the largest and oldest provider of disability supports in Greenville county.

“My wife and I have four children. Two of whom were born with special needs,” Rex said.

It’s a personal passion that led him to a career focused on support for the differently-abled.

“When our oldest daughter was born, a little over 20 years ago, our life and my professional life took a turn that we hadn’t expected, but a welcome one,” Rex said.

Both at home and at work, it’s his mission to integrate his children and those he helps into the community, side-by-side with everyone else. But Rex said bias makes that difficult.

What is bias against people with disabilities?

“It can be something as simple as making hiring decisions that make it challenging for someone with a disability to become hired,” Rex said.

Rex said sometimes our bias is fed by the things we take for granted, like the ability to get from point A to point B with relative ease.

“We hop in our vehicles and we drive on Greenville County roads that are very conducive to what we need. But, we have made it very difficult for someone with a disability to simply get to where they need to go in Greenville,” Rex said.

Identifying and moving past the bias

Bias, even if it’s unconscious and unintentional, Rex said creates a barrier that keeps people with disabilities from having a seat at the table.

“To be human means to have biases. The challenge is to acknowledge that we have them and to overcome our natural tendencies to have a bias.”

Tyler Rex, Executive Director, Thrive Upstate

Rex said people with disabilities have so much to contribute and truly want to be a part of society.

He said he has seen a yearning within his own children and the people he works to support to be a part of it all. Not separate or on the outside looking in, but included and accepted.

“Living with a disability does not mean that you don’t have goals and the ambition to have a high quality of life. My desire would be for everyone to ask themselves, would that be good enough for me? If I had a disability, would that job or that system within our community be good enough for me?”

Tyler Rex, Executive Director, Thrive Upstate

“Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference 2022”

Tyler Rex is one of more than a dozen community leaders who will speak at the upcoming “Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference” hosted by the Rotary Club of Greenville.

The annual conference will be held on May 12 at the Greenville Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Finding Peace in a World Full of Conflict and Bias.”

7NEWS Anchor Taylor Murray will serve as “Master of Ceremonies”.

If you are interested in attending, you can register at peaceandconflictresolution.com.

“Community Conversations” is a new 7NEWS series where we will be sitting down for one-on-one conversations with leaders, influencers, innovators, change agents and the movers and shakers of the Upstate community on topics that matter to you.