Accessibility

How a dinner table conversation led to BofA’s Support Services division made of neurodivergent employees

  • 85% of people with autism in America are unemployed. Banks have a part to play in changing this, as employers of 2 million people across America.
  • Mark Feinour, Executive Director of Support Services at Bank of America, dives into the story of Support Services and his own journey within the function which provides a workplace for neurodivergent employees.
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How a dinner table conversation led to BofA’s Support Services division made of neurodivergent employees

85% of people with autism in America are unemployed, according to the World Economic Forum. This affects their ability to build healthy financial futures. Banks have a part to play in changing this, not only as institutions that have a unique understanding of how finances can impact lives and families but also as employers of 2 million people across America. 

But what does the roadmap to creating a more equitable workplace look like? The answer is that it’s a combination of efforts. Banks like Wells Fargo have reworked their employee onboarding process to better fit the needs of the neurodiverse talent pool, and Bank of America has dedicated Accessibility Specialists that ensure internal digital tools are designed with differently abled employees in mind.

The call for more inclusion in financial services is a broad one, and organizations across the industry are finding their own routes to a more equitable future and workplace. For Bank of America, one answer is Support Services, an in-house marketing and fulfillment team that primarily employs differently abled people including neurodivergent individuals.

What is BofA’s Support Services?

Comprising over 250 employees, BofA’s Support Services operates in Newark (DE), Belfast (ME), Dallas, and Boston. Operating as a back office support function, Support Services resides within the bank’s Global Human Resources, handling fulfillment tasks, such as printing and mail, for every major line of business in the company.

From the dinner table to the bank

The motivation for Support Services emerged from a conversation that Charles Cawley, the CEO of a legacy bank (MBNA) later acquired by BofA, had with his friends over dinner in the 1990s — the same decade that saw the birth of the Americans With Disability Act. Cawley’s friends worried about their neurodivergent son’s future who was in high school at the time. For Cawley this was a call to action, who told his friends that they don’t need to worry about their son and that he “would provide for himself”, according to Mark Feinour, Executive Director of Support Services at Bank of America.

 

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