by Linda Chandler, CEO, Linden Resources
Did you know that…
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month? That it is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy? And that it is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues? I support this celebration of the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. What a great theme also "Because We Are EQUAL to the Task."
Here is why this matters...
The Office of Disability Employment Policy published these alarming disability employment statistics as of August 2013:
Labor Force Participation
People with disabilities: 20.5%
People without disabilities: 69.1%
People with disabilities: 14.1%
People without disabilities: 7.1%
Photo - Employees with disabilities work at Linden Resources on secure document destruction, one of the services they offer to customers.
I am discouraged to read these statistics. As the largest employer of people with disabilities in Arlington County, Linden Resources has learned that employees with disabilities possess talents and abilities, are dedicated and loyal, and appreciative of jobs opportunities. As employees, they add to the range of viewpoints businesses need to succeed, offering fresh ideas to solve problems, accomplish tasks and implement strategies. This untapped labor pool can offer a source of skilled employees and can contribute to increasing retention and reducing turnover. In addition, tax incentives and technical assistance can assist with accommodations, which are often relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. I believe this is a win for any employer!
To gain these benefits and others, employers should establish the following practices as part of their business culture:
- Seek qualified candidates with disabilities for job openings.
- Establish a system for educating all workers about the value people with disabilities bring to your organization.
- Add disability to any diversity training program.
- Ensure professional development programs are available to people with disabilities.
- Assist in providing employees with disabilities with feedback on their performance in the same manner as provided for individuals without disabilities.
There are a number of organizations that help businesses incorporate the above practices. The best thing you can do is seek help from these organizations, as well as utilitze resources such as the Office of Disability Employment Policy's Ideas for Employers and Employees.