Pandemic Job Loss Numbers, and Other News From July

By Workplace Initiative Team
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Welcome to the Workplace Initiative Monthly Roundup.

Each month, we’ll be bringing you news about trends, innovations, and accomplishments from the field of disability inclusion. Here’s a selection of what made the news in July 2020.

1. Pandemic job loss numbers for people with disabilities—a trend we’ve seen before

During the pandemic, people with disabilities have been losing their jobs at a greater rate than people without disabilities, according to HuffPost.

It’s a familiar trend. Research has found that people with disabilities were significantly more likely to lose their jobs during the period surrounding the 2008–2010 recession than people without disabilities.

“When the labor market is really tight, employers can’t afford to discriminate, because they’ve got to get those workers in there,” said Douglas Kruse, a co-author of that layoff research and co-director of Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research with Lisa Schur. “Whereas when there’s recessions, then employers can be choosy about whom they pick and that’s a time when discrimination can come into play.”

But the underlying reasons for discrimination against people with disabilities tend to be similar in any environment.

The biggest employment barrier for workers with disabilities, both before the pandemic and now, is a lack of awareness and the prevailing societal attitudes around how work should get done, said Kathy Martinez, former assistant secretary of the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and senior vice president of Disability Market Segment & Strategy for Wells Fargo.

Read more at HuffPost

You can take steps to address discrimination in your workplace. For example, break down hiring barriers by learning how to rethink your job descriptions.

2. “Young, Black & Disabled”: What This Artist Wants You to Know 

A growing percentage of the workforce has grown up with the Americans with Disabilities Act in place. But navigating its protections isn’t always straightforward, as Lindsay Adams writes in Refinery29.

After college, as I entered the workforce, I wasn’t sure where or how my disability would place me. I wasn’t always aware of what accommodations or support I needed. As I discovered myself and unpacked my challenges, I also began to unpack my privilege. I knew that people couldn’t tell that I was disabled by looking at me (which is the case for many people with invisible conditions or challenges). I had the option to speak up about my CP, or only reference the speech impediment and premature birth when asked. I thought it created an ease and simplicity in spaces where I didn’t have to explain myself. I quickly learned that it did not do any of these things. I was only hurting myself by not embracing all parts of me. By not giving myself grace and space to be my full and authentic self, I put unrealistic pressures on myself, and I suffered many inner battles of ableism, anxiety, and depression. 

Read more at Refinery29

Learn how inclusive leadership can help your employees feel more welcome to bring their whole selves to work.

3. Large companies are getting better at proactive inclusion, according to the Disability Equality Index

HRDive reports some good news about disability inclusion at top U.S. companies.

The number of companies that scored an 80 percent and above on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) more than quadrupled to 205 from 43 in 2015, according to a report released July 15. The DEI, facilitated by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), is an annual benchmarking tool for the Fortune 1000 companies and the top 200 revenue grossing law firms in the U.S. to measure their inclusion against competitors.

Most companies surveyed had a company-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion specifically highlighting "disability," and 70 percent had an accessibility expert available.

Read more at HRDive. 

Companies of any size can start building a more accessible workplace—for example, here are 30 ideas for accommodations.

4. Activist Annie Segarra wants the ADA to be more than an “afterthought”

Annie Segarra is a disability activist and influencer. In a profile at In The Know, she points out that the 30th anniversary of the ADA is a good time to think critically about how it’s put into practice.

The 30-year-old is exactly the same age as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the landmark legislation that prohibited disability-based discrimination in the U.S. She knows the law has changed her life in meaningful ways.

“I definitely feel such an immense sense of gratitude to the activists that made [the ADA] happen,” she told In The Know.

However, she knows the law needs to go further. Segarra says she’s “critical” of current anti-discrimination laws—especially because she sees contradictions in its enforcement all around her.

“That is one of the more like emotionally hurtful parts of it,” she said. “Like buildings being built, events being created, and it’s not until a disabled person says, ‘Hey, are you going to include me in this?’ that they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot you were there.’”

Read more at In The Know

For the 30th anniversary of the ADA, consider some ways your workplace can look to the future.

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