Columbia woman works for inclusion in job hiring

6 months 5 days 18 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 10:56:00 AM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
By: Matt Weller, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Kat Cunningham says her business is all about inclusion.

Moresource provides business services such as payroll, human relations consulting and technical support

Cunningham said Moresource was started with one key value.

"Inclusion is about culture," Cunningham said. "It means a different culture, a better culture when you include people who are not like you."

She is an advocate for hiring people with disabilities, both for her company and others. 

"You see a person who shows up on time, comes to work every day, has a smile on their face," Cunningham said. "They are empowered and feel they are contributing. I feel like that will help any business's bottom line."

Cunningham operates Moresource full-time, but said she felt a calling to do something more important.

"You get through college and you find that your career path kinda goes into a different direction. Well then, over the last couple years, I realized I need to get back to where my passion was."

Cunningham credits her sister, who has down syndrome, as her motivation to make a difference for those with disabilities.

"My sister Alica is two years older than me, but much younger in spirit. She lives in a group home. She is a very productive citizen. She makes money and she has her allowance every month that she spends. So, she's a contributing member of our society."

Cunningham decided to create the Mid-Missouri Business Leadership Network, a group designed to connect businesses and applicants with disabilities. The group will work directly with local businesses to assist them in hiring and integrating new employees.

Cunningham said the most important thing is showing businesses her clients are talented, productive workers. 

"We all have different abilities to offer, and so whether it's a visible disability or invisible disability, we all have some challenge," she said. "We all offer different things to our workplace so why not call it different abilities, not disabilities."

The group recently recognized three Columbia business, Arris' Pizza, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen and Lenoir Woods Senior Living for inclusive hiring policies.

"We've all gotten that first opportunity from someone and that's what we try to provide," said Lenoir Woods Dining Services Manager Duane Miller. "Once you provide that opportunity, then it gives people the ability to flourish and kind of break out of where they were and become a new person, in a new area, making new friends."

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick believes Cunningham's network will serve as a great resource for applicants and businesses who have not hired an employee with a disability before.

"For businesses that have never done this before, having Kat is invaluable," McCormick said. "Kat has stepped into a space that not a lot of people have. She can help show people just how to make this work."

McCormick said the group will help big and small businesses alike.

"It doesn't matter if we are a five person organization or a 500 person organization. This is a scaleable program that all businesses can be a part of."

Cunningham said she's going to keep fighting her fight, because she wants to and needs to.

"I feel like it's my responsibility. It's my purpose."

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