If there’s one thing all disability employment and inclusion hiring programs have in common, it’s this: implementing them takes time.

You’ll need patience and a view of the long game. Of course, the actual length of time it takes to reach meaningful employment levels will depend on a range of factors that are specific to your company – including site complexity, scale, and policies and procedures.

From assessment to launch, an action-oriented, mid-size company might be able to implement a disability initiative in 90 days, but on average, most take 6 to 12 months or more.

Here’s a sample implementation process timeline for a pilot program that might lead to a national rollout: 

1. Obtain Buy-In

  • Secure senior leadership agreement to move forward with assessment (resources and concept). Ideally, that buy-in includes:
  • Operations person with direct CEO report
  • HR and Talent Acquisition

The timeline for buy-in can vary widely from organization to organization. Some companies will obtain this very quickly, as they may already have a senior-level champion supporting disability efforts. But if the organization needs to be educated on the benefits of disability inclusion, this can take 6 months or more. On average, this takes approximately 3 months.

 2. Assessment

Review company policies, practices, programs and procedures:

  • Workplace – Review workplace policies and programs to ensure you’re being inclusive of people with disabilities. (e.g. accommodations policy and procedures, training on interacting effectively with people with disabilities)
  • Workforce – Do you have programs to support employees and new hires with disabilities? (e.g. Employee Resource Groups or Affinity Groups)
  • Are you recruiting from organizations that have talent with disabilities?
  • Marketplace – Do you have adequate services for customers with varying disabilities? Do your call centers or help desk understand how to support and engage customers with disabilities? Are you utilizing vendors and suppliers with disabilities?
  • Understand what needs to change
  • Assess the size of the opportunity

3. Planning

Develop a plan to address any identified gaps:

  • Resources needed
  • Timeline
  • Targets (milestones and outcomes)
  • Project lead and sponsor
  • Approve the plan (head of operations)

4. Pilot Rollout

Select pilot sites:

  • Track progress against milestones and metrics
  • Execute internal communications plan
  • Build local partnerships for local pipelines
Translate learnings into revised rollout plan

5. Scale Rollout

  • Implement internal communications for broader internal rollout (including goals, expectations, timeline, and marketing)
  • Same as pilot but execute plan for national rollout 

6. Steady State

  • Track, measure, report
  • Finalize ongoing structure and ownership
  • Implement external communications

By building an implementation plan to cover these stages and allotting appropriate levels of time and energy to each, you prime yourself for success in your disability inclusion initiative. And remember, this doesn’t need to be painful – identify the pace that works for your company needs and goals to set your company up for success.

Now that you know what you need, it’s time to find your community partners to help you along this process.

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