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Workplace Initiative Weekly News Roundup: October 14, 2019

By Workplace Initiative
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Here are some highlights of this week’s news about disability inclusion in the workforce and how you can use the information to make your company the best it can be.

What’s reported: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and the 2019 theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.” NDEAM is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Labor website offers resources and ideas for how your company can participate.

What it means for you: NDEAM’s awareness campaign is a good reminder to raise awareness in your own company. Find ways to highlight disability inclusion and celebrate your employees with disabilities. Use NDEAM as an opportunity to make your workplace more inclusive. Review your company’s policies to make sure they express a commitment to inclusion. Start a disability-related Employee Resource Group (ERG). And make sure to provide disability awareness training. 

What’s reported: The National Organization on Disability (NOD) announced the winners of its 2019 Leading Disability Employers Seal last week. NOD recognized 59 organizations based on a free and confidential assessment that benchmarks companies’ disability inclusion programs. The winners include government agencies, financial institutions, entertainment companies, and more. The awards were announced at NOD’s Corporate Leadership Council Annual Forum, which also featured actors and disability advocates Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) and Robert David Hall (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation). 

What it means for you: If you’ve already adopted disability inclusion policies, think about submitting your company for consideration for the 2020 seal. It’s a great way to get public recognition for the work your company is doing.

What’s reported: Chief Investment Officer reports that a group of investors have called for the companies they invest in to make hiring employees with disabilities a priority. The group, which includes New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read, and the AFL-CIO, made the point that there’s a financial benefit in hiring employees with disabilities.

What it means for you: If you have investors in your organization, make sure to highlight your disability inclusion efforts in your next board meeting (as well as the financial benefits that come with disability inclusion). 

What’s reported: BraunAbility (the nation’s top maker of wheelchair-accessible vehicles) has announced in a press release that it wants to be a model for other organizations by focusing on disability inclus.ion. The company plans to send all job openings to over 20 referral sources for applicants with disabilities. BraunAbility also made sure their new corporate headquarters is fully accessible for people with mobility impairments. The new space was built with input from people with physical disabilities. It includes braille signage, doorways wider than the ADA minimum, height-adjustable desks, and automatic sliding doors in the conference rooms. 

What it means for you: A formal commitment to accessibility can help you be a model for other companies. For example, Microsoft and FCA US are joining in BraunAbility’s ongoing campaign for accessibility by making changes to their own headquarters.

What’s reported: In this article, Forbes reports on how more companies need to understand the value of having a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities. By adapting their hiring practices to be fully accessible, companies can gain access to a wider range of job candidates. But the article also highlights the need to make your culture more inclusive. It quotes a Gallup report on diversity in the workplace: “Diversity is about who you hire. Inclusion is about the respect and acceptance people feel.” Your company needs both diversity and inclusion to maximize the full financial benefits of having a diverse workforce. 

What it means for you: Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace drives business success. A diverse group of employees includes people with disabilities. But you need to adopt policies and practices that let you hire more people with disabilities and help them thrive.