Every October, the United States observes the achievements of people with disabilities who contribute throughout all levels of employment and industries. The United States reaffirms its commitments to equal work opportunities by raising awareness and inclusion during this month.

Theme of 2020

Every year the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) establishes a theme for the month. The theme for this year is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.”

Given the number of organizations that are now entirely remote, there will be a natural increase in accessible jobs for persons with disabilities. “Increasing access and opportunity” allows organization to take a step back and reevaluate roles that are now completely successful remotely, even if they were previously assumed in-office only jobs.

Often people think of disabilities as something physical, but it is equally important to remember that some disabilities are invisible. AskJan, also known as the job accommodation network, has wonderful resources to help you address disabilities, accommodations, and etiquette to working with persons who have disabilities.

What can your organization do to build awareness and inclusion?

The ODEP has an excellent resource to help you bring awareness and inclusion to your workforce. Below are a few items that can provide quick results:

  • Company Policies & Handbook Review
    • Consider adding a commitment to diversity, including people with disabilities, to your handbook and your values, mission, or vision statements.
    • Partner with a diversity and inclusion specialist to help with inclusive statements and policies, such as Torin Perez.
  • Education & Awareness
    • Educate your employees on how to collaborate with colleagues that may have disabilities.
    • Ensure your diversity training includes topics on physical and mental disabilities.
    • Collaborate with a DEI training organization such as LifeLabs.
  • Recruitment & Job Analysis
    • Review your open positions and soon to be open positions. Are these roles able to be filled by people with disabilities with or without accommodations? If so, look for recruitment partners, job boards, and nonprofits that support organizations in hiring people with disabilities.
    • Prepare your recruitment and interview teams on interview etiquette. AskEarn.org, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, offers resources and training to help with these topics.
    • Review your minimum qualifications for areas that may dissuade a person with disabilities. Due to remote working opportunities and accommodations, could someone with a disability perform these duties? If so, you should highlight this on job boards targeted towards persons with disabilities.
  • Disability Mentoring Day

Community Organizations

Below are a few organizations who can support and help you create an inclusive organization and support people with disabilities.

  • Best Buddies International – This organization supports companies to become more inclusive of people with cognitive disabilities. The organization can help you in integrating your employment opportunities with their program participants.
  • Hire Heroes USA – Hire Heroes helps injured and returning service members with disabilities acquire careers and job opportunities. In addition to supporting the job seeker, they partner with companies to offer talent sourcing, training for your HR and Talent teams, career fairs, and more.
  • Ticket to Work – The Ticket to Work program is developed through the Social Security Administration. The program connects organizations to employment networks and helps find qualified job applicants with disabilities.

Next Steps

Building an inclusive workforce is no easy task, but the results provide tremendous rewards. Employees and job candidates with disabilities should be respected, just like any other employee, and deserve the same growth and advancement opportunities as everyone else. This post is a start to helping your organization build a framework for an inclusive organization. We encourage you to work with your Leadership, Talent, HR, and People teams to develop a cohesive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy that addresses diversity in all of its forms.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. © 2020 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Travis Hatfield – Travis is an HR Business Partner to Sequoia One clients in California and New York supporting clients with HR compliance, strategy, and operations. Travis is also a member of Sequoia’s Team Member Resource Group. In his free time, Travis can be found traveling, playing 1 of 10 instruments, and exploring San Francisco.