People with Disabilities are among the highest unemployed populations in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.5 percent in 2016, about twice that of those with no disability (4.6 percent). As employers, this not only provides a significant opportunity to positively impact the workforce, but also, to positively impact the lives of many highly qualified individuals who are often overlooked.
Helping to close the gap in the unemployment rates among individuals with disabilities, takes intentional effort on the part of companies, as well as the leaders who represent them, particularly those making hiring decisions. As with most diversity recruitment efforts, engaging individuals with disabilities requires a unique level of commitment and accountability.
An area where some companies fall short is in understanding the best ways to partner, both internally and externally, to ensure their disability inclusion efforts are effective. Partnering with organizations such as The National Organization on Disability (NOD) and US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) can be extremely helpful in not only building bridges to top talent, but also in aligning employers to the many programs and resources available, to assist them in hiring and retaining people with disabilities. Resources such as NODs suite of Disability Employment Professional Services, are particularly helpful in providing the guidance and insights needed to successfully launch and/or evolve strategic disability efforts.
As the need for diversity and inclusion continues to become more and more prevalent, employers must be strategic about how they diversify their workforces and ultimately build a culture that supports that diversity, by encouraging everyone to bring their full self to work.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Let it serve as a reminder to all of us to continue raising awareness, diversifying our workplaces and most importantly, doing our part to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by disabilities.
How does your organization make a difference to affect the quality of life of your employees who are impacted by disabilities? Share your ideas in the comments.