'There Should Be No Barriers'

Born deaf, a Baxter employee climbs career ladder in a hearing world

Sam Russotto has done things differently his entire life – and he’s convinced it’s what has gotten him where he is today. The Baxter engineering technologist was born deaf and raised in a hearing world. Through determination and by leveraging technology, Sam advanced his career on his own terms.

Sam began his career at Baxter 14 years ago as a computer-aided design (CAD) operator. Early in his career, he faced skepticism that he could do his job effectively, but his belief in his abilities and support from Baxter never wavered.

“Some people didn’t think I could move up as fast as I did, but I proved them wrong,” Sam said. “Deaf people can do anything anyone else can do except hear.”

Sam has experienced Baxter’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse culture on many occasions. As a specialist devoted to the application of practical engineering principles and technical skills, he has support from IT to use his own device on site to troubleshoot, uses a video phone to talk to colleagues and customers through a translator, and receives continuous support from his team.

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I have a wonderful team. They have been flexible and open to the differences in communication methods and work style necessary for me to excel. If I didn’t have that support, I wouldn’t be where I am now and I wouldn’t have been able to advance within the company. I’m proud to work at Baxter.

Sam Russotto

Sam reciprocates that level of support with his own family. His wife and his two children are also deaf, and he makes sure his children have full access to the best education and experiences. “I want them to be able to navigate the world the best they can as deaf individuals,” Sam shared.

Sam is also actively involved in the Baxter EnAbles Business Resource Group, a group of employees focused on providing a support network, fostering inclusion, building awareness and instilling respect. The group serves Baxter employees living with physical, sensory or cognitive impairments, whether personally, through a loved one, or as a supporter.

As a member of Baxter EnAbles, Sam has collaborated with leaders to continue accommodating people with disabilities.

During National Disability Employment Awareness Month and throughout the year, Baxter EnAbles provides support to persons with disabilities through mentoring programs and raising awareness of employment opportunities at Baxter. Improving disability employment is aligned with building diverse, high-performing teams that are engaged and innovative, and advances company culture so that every employee feels valued, respected and safe to be their authentic self.

“I’m a strong believer that everyone should have access and there should be no barriers,” Sam said. “I’m very passionate about that. We still have a long way to go, but the work that Baxter EnAbles has done has been fantastic so far.”