10 Ways to Think about How #InclusionWorks
- Celebrating NDEAM. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) takes place every October to celebrate the accomplishments of people with disabilities in the workplace. It’s also a time to reflect on ways that employers, workers, people with disabilities and others can build on that success and strengthen workplace inclusion. NDEAM began as a week-long observance in 1945; since then, it has evolved into a month-long celebration. This year’s theme is #InclusionWorks, which focuses on the key role disability plays in workplace inclusion. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers ideas for ways to celebrate NDEAM, including posting a photo, quote or article on your personal or organization’s social media account with the #InclusionWorks hashtag. If you work in an office, consider hosting a brown bag lunch to discuss ways your workplace can be more welcoming and inclusive to people with disabilities.
- ODEP is a Champion for Diversity and Inclusion. ODEP is the only non-regulatory Federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. The office supports a number of disability employment initiatives and offers resources on topics related to diversity and inclusion, like this guide to building an inclusive workforce. In addition, ODEP provides policy and technical assistance resources that can help you develop inclusive workplace practices. Employers can also find free resources through the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN). Learn more about disability inclusion and implementing inclusive policies and practices. “Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion” is a valuable tool that identifies promising employment policies and practices for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities.
- What’s the Buzz(word)? You’ve likely heard the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” tossed around when companies talk about their hiring practices, but what do these terms really mean? Diversity is the recognition that there are people of different races, cultural backgrounds, genders, ages, abilities, classes and more that make up this world and, subsequently, the workplace. Inclusion is the idea that all people, especially those in marginalized groups, should be able to participate equally in social, civic and educational activities. Companies benefit significantly from diverse and inclusive practices – they even makes us smarter. These terms are not just buzzwords: diverse and inclusive practices better serve communities, increase innovation and improve workplace culture.
- Disability = Diversity. What do you think of when you hear about “diversity?” Is it race? Gender? Age? Disability is a part of diversity, too. A diverse economy is a strong economy. People with disabilities are an important part of the makeup of a diverse workforce, but they are often underrepresented in employment rates. A diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities gives employers a wider pool of talent to hire from and contributes to the overall success of a company. Disability as a part of diversity matters. There are many ways to encourage diversity through disability inclusion, like taking proactive steps to recruit workers with disabilities and providing workplace accommodations.
- A Partnership for Inclusion. The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) is an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy that encourages employers and others to recognize the value and talent people with disabilities bring to the workplace. Through video public service announcements (PSAs), the CDE highlights the message that, “At work, it’s what you CAN do that matters.” The CDE also plays a leading role in NDEAM, helping to promote the important role people with disabilities play in the American workplace. Recently, the CDE partnered with the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to host an NDEAM-themed Twitter chat with former Major League Baseball player and current Gallaudet University Head Baseball Coach Curtis Pride. Several of the CDE’s partners and supporters have also helped spread the word about NDEAM, including the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the National Business and Disability Council at the Viscardi Center. Both USBLN president and CEO Jill Houghton and Viscardi Center president and CEO John Kemp blogged for the U.S. Department of Labor about why “InclusionWorks” for employers and businesses.
- How Inclusion Benefits the Workplace. This year’s NDEAM theme, #InclusionWorks, focuses on the key role disability plays in workforce diversity. But why are diversity and inclusion so important for the workplace? Having a diverse workforce that represents the perspectives of all types of people can make businesses more productive, creative and able to respond to market demands. And recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities is a vital part of being inclusive. EARN says that companies that include employees with disabilities, “benefit from a wider pool of talent, skills and creative business solutions.” People with disabilities also represent the third largest market segment in the U.S., so counting individuals with disabilities among your employees can help your businesses better understand and meet the needs of this expanding customer base. In addition, hiring workers with disabilities could mean tax breaks for your business.
- Creating an Inclusive Workplace. Employers interested in creating disability inclusive workplaces, but unsure of how to do so can turn to EARN for help. EARN has information on recruiting and hiring employees with disabilities making your workplace accessible and starting disability-focused employee resource groups. Cornell University’s Institute on Employment and Disability also offers tips for human resource professionals about recruiting, hiring and retaining workers with disabilities. Remember that workplace accessibility not only applies to a company’s physical space, but also its information and communications technology, such as websites and online job applications. Ensure your company’s virtual doors are open to all by using the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology’s TalentWorks tool. The Job Accommodations Network has information on workplace accommodations, including typical costs and a new Workplace Accommodation Toolkit. Learn more about workplace inclusion of people with disabilities by reading “Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion.”
- Disclosure and Self-Identification. There has been a good deal of discussion about disclosure and self-identification with the changes to Section 503 Regulations earlier this year. Though the terms are similar, they have slightly different meanings. Disclosure is when a person chooses to tell an employer or prospective employer about a disability or health condition. For example, an employee may disclose a disability to his or her employer so they may be given accommodations at work. Young adults entering the workforce may want to familiarize themselves with the what, why, when and how of disability disclosure to feel comfortable choosing whether or not to disclose their disability. A company, usually its human resources department, may ask employees to voluntarily and anonymously self-identify if they are a person with a disability. This can happen during the job application, hiring process or during a workforce survey and responses are kept confidential and only used so the company can keep track of the number of people with disabilities they employee. Watch this video to learn more about self-identification and why it’s important. Learn how to create a company culture that encourages self-identification and disclosure.
- Mentoring Makes a Difference. Like Yoda was to Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” trilogy, a good mentor can make a difference in your career path. A mentoring relationship especially helps youth with disabilitiesnavigate employment and find success. Mentor Match pairs young people with disabilities with mentors. The National Mentoring Partnership can help you start a mentoring program in your community. Become a mentor, find a mentor and learn about the value mentoring adds for businesses. Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), hosted by The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), helps students and jobseekers with disabilities find employment. Although DMD is officially celebrated on the third Wednesday of October, mentoring is a year-round effort and you can connect with a mentor at any time in your career. Check out the DMD guide for more information.
- 10 Great Quotes about Disability and Work. Find inspiration for inclusion, diversity and disability with these wise words.
- “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius
- “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt
- “There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” Henry Ford
- “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “Work is love made visible.” Khalil Gibran
- “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” Thomas Edison
- “Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” Martina Navratilova
- “I choose not to place “DIS”, in my ability.” Robert M. Hensel
- “Disability doesn’t make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.” Stella Young
- “I am different, not less.” Temple Grandin
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