Resources Help Employers Increase Disability Employment

By SHRM Online staff Oct 5, 2012
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), celebrated each October in the U.S., provides employers with an opportunity to evaluate their disability employment practices and find resources to enhance their talent management strategy throughout the year.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) provides posters and other tools employers can use to celebrate NDEAM, as well as a list of ideas and resources that can be used to:

  • Train supervisors.
  • Educate employees.
  • Review policies.
  • Start a mentoring program.

Organizations such as the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) periodically host educational webinars free for employers interested in learning more about disability employment, such as the series offered in October 2012.

“People with disabilities add tremendous value to the workplace, particularly in today’s global, knowledge-based economy,” said Barbara Otto, principal of Think Beyond the Label and CEO of Health & Disability Advocates, in a news statement. “Employers are looking for broader, more modernized approaches for attracting and appealing to qualified job seekers with disabilities.”

One way to reach this pool of candidates is through online career fairs, such as the one hosted by Think Beyond the Label and powered by Brazen Careerist on Oct. 16, 2012. “Virtual recruiting is an ideal platform for people with disabilities,” Otto explained, because candidates can demonstrate how they will assimilate into an office or remote work environment using assistive technology without having to reveal their disability. This lets them keep the focus on their skills and experience, she noted.

Recruiting events are offered by a variety of other organizations such as Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, a site dedicated to matching students and employers.

Employers interested in recruiting metrics can use Think Beyond the Label’s “Hire Gauge” to calculate the costs associated with hiring people with disabilities. Additional business-focused resources can be found through the U.S. Business Leadership Network.

“In times of prosperity as well as challenge, people with disabilities have had fewer opportunities in our workplaces than those without,” said President Barack Obama in a NDEAM proclamation issued Oct. 1, 2012. “As we work to revitalize our economy, it is essential that each of us can bring our talents, expertise and passion to bear in the marketplace.”

The president noted that he signed an executive order in 2010 that called on federal agencies to increase recruitment, hiring and retention of people with disabilities and added, “Today, more people with disabilities work for the federal government than at any time in the past 20 years.”​


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