Candidate Pools & Proactive Recruiting, Diversity

Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an ideal time for employers to become more familiar about the abilities people with disabilities bring to the workplace.

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that this year’s theme is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, when announcing the theme. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”

Resources for Employers

The DOL has created a resource toolbox, to help employers plan and implement NDEAM, and to promote their organization as an employer committed to inclusion.

Among these resources is a sample press release that speaks to an organization’s commitment to an inclusive work culture. It can be customized by inserting your organization’s name and a quote from a company spokesperson.

The resource toolbox also includes sample NDEAM social media content that an organization can post.

In addition, there are social media accessibility tips. Among these are:

  • To increase readability, place #hashtags or @mentions at the end of tweets or posts.
  • Avoid abbreviations and spell out acronyms in tweets or posts.
  • For multi-word hashtags, capitalize the first letters of each section of a compound word (#LikeThisExample).

Beyond October

In order to build and foster a culture that promotes inclusion, these social media tips, and other best practices, should be ongoing.

The DOL offers additional tips for promoting a disability-friendly workplace year round. Here are tips that pertain to recruiting and hiring:

  • Sponsor a lunch and learn series about disability issues. The DOL recommends tapping external and internal presenters to discuss such topics as “Communicating with Job Seekers with Disabilities.”
  • Provide volunteer opportunities to your employees. The DOL recommends that companies sponsor opportunities for staff to volunteer at local organizations that prepare people with disabilities for work. It notes that there are often opportunities for volunteers to spend time reviewing resumes, staging mock-interviews, and providing guidance on how to dress for success.
  • Display posters promoting disability inclusion. In addition to educating employees, posters remind employees that the company is disability-friendly. As a result, they may be more likely to refer job-seeking friends with disabilities to the company.
  • Interview students with disabilities during campus recruiting trips. Meeting with college juniors and seniors with disabilities on campus recruiting trips is a great way to build a pipeline of talented job candidates, the DOL notes.
  • Host a “Disability 101” event for employees. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers a series of free training modules on a variety of disability-related topics. The series, called “Just-in-Time,” can be used to educate staff with hiring and managerial responsibilities about issues related to applicants and employees with disabilities.
  • Incorporate disability into your onboarding process. The DOL recommends that organizations use the onboarding process to educate new employees about company policies and practices related to disability inclusion – from reasonable accommodation procedures to the company’s commitment to equal employment opportunity. Such practices will help new employees feel good about the organization they now serve, the DOL says, and may encourage self-identification among people with hidden disabilities. It may also make them more likely to refer their job-seeking friends with disabilities to the company.

These and other proactive steps will help you build and promote a culture of inclusion, so that every month is disability employment awareness month.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.