By Bridget Miller
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and it’s a good time to ensure that your managers are trained to understand of their compliance responsibilities. Guest columnist Bridget Miller explains the facts surrounding NDEAM and what it means for employers.
Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month? It was originally declared by Congress back in 1945; at that time, it was a week titled “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The name and duration have evolved since then, settling on NDEAM in 1988.
Each year comes with a theme; the theme for 2016 is #InclusionWorks.
NDEAM seeks to highlight the significant contribution disabled individuals make in the workplace. A workforce benefits from diversity, and one form of diversity is the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.
Why Should Employers Want to Hire Disabled Individuals?
Why should employers want to hire disabled individuals? Besides the obvious answer—that it’s illegal to discriminate against qualified individuals on the basis of a disability—there are many other reasons employers can benefit significantly from hiring individuals who may have a disability.
- By including individuals with disabilities, the organization has access to a larger breadth of knowledge and experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 53 million adults in the United States have a disability. It simply doesn’t make sense to ignore such a large segment of the population.
- It can help to cement your employment brand as one of inclusiveness.
- Increasing diversity in the workplace can help to bring new ideas and innovation simply by bringing more viewpoints into the workforce.
- Employees and clients alike can appreciate a diverse workforce. This can increase revenue as well as make the employer more attractive to potential employees. Diversity can also improve employee morale.
- There can be tax benefits from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for hiring individuals with disabilities. For more information, see the IRS info page here: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-benefits-for-businesses-who-have-employees-with-disabilities and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) page here: https://www.dol.gov/odep/documents/WOTC-incentive.pdf
- Hiring individuals with disabilities can benefit the organization’s image to the public. Individuals with disabilities, in particular, may look favorably to organizations that openly show inclusiveness.
- Some businesses may find that hiring disabled workers ends up lowering turnover and absenteeism while increasing productivity.
How Can You Get Involved with NDEAM?
There are a lot of ways employers can be directly involved in promoting NDEAM. Here are some options:
- Display the NDEAM poster at worksites. The poster can be printed or ordered in English or Spanish from the DOL website here: https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/2016English.htm
- Send out a press release supporting NDEAM.
- Include NDEAM in your October social media activities.
- Review company policies for ways to be more inclusive, and update accordingly.
- Ensure your policies related to the ADA are updated, and ensure all managers are trained on them.
- For even more ideas, check out the 31-day slideshow available from the DOL here: https://www.dol.gov/dol/media/photos/slideshows/20141001-NDEAM.htm#1, or the list of ideas for employers here: https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/employers.htm
Does your organization proactively recruit individuals with disabilities? Is the workplace inclusive? Will you be participating in the NDEAM activities?
In tomorrow’s Advisor, Miller discusses a disability that is becoming prevalent in workplaces nationwide: diabetes.