Celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and educate others about the importance of creating an inclusive workforce in October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
What can your company or organization do to mark this milestone?
Glad you asked!
Here are 10 ideas.
The 2020 theme for the annual observance is “Increasing Access and Opportunity” (download the poster in English or Spanish free, here). Review your hiring practices to be sure workers with disabilities are part of your ranks. If not, use this month as a call to action to make your workplace more inclusive. Ask yourself if your recruiting materials are inclusive. Launch a proactive effort to spread the word that your company values inclusivity. Make sure disability awareness is part of your orientation process.
Highlight the accomplishments and personalities of workers with disabilities. Thank a different worker every day on the social media platforms you use or write a profile for an internal communication about how a worker with a disability makes a difference to the organization.
Establish an Employee Resource Group (ERG) that can match employees with similar needs and interests. In addition to providing support services, members can educate others about disability etiquette, accessibility and accommodations. They can also assist in recruiting and retaining candidates with disabilities and mentor other employees with disabilities. If you have an ERG, remind your employees about it on social media and other communication channels.
Reflect on how to best accommodate employees with disabilities. You don’t want to end contributing to the list of the worst places to live with a disability. Disability discrimination was the second-most filed cause of action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year.
Start the conversation at your workplace about disability employment, and make sure employees with disabilities lead the dialogue. Listen and learn from them. VersAbility would be happy to facilitate this discussion, or simply start with a brown bag lunch.
Disability Mentoring Day is Oct. 21. Participate in this nationwide effort to promote professional development for students with disabilities. Go virtual this year to partner students from your community with mentors who can make an impact just by sharing their time and advice.
Educate everyone within your organization about what is and what isn’t a disability. Make sure your training materials include what language to use and what to avoid when referring to disabilities.
Offer volunteer opportunities to your employees related to community members with disabilities. Giving back creates camaraderie within the workplace and visibility for your organization. If possible, consider sponsoring your own event.
Join VersAbility Resources to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the Hampton Roads community. Show your support as a corporate sponsor, volunteer or advocate. Make a monetary donation.
While Disability Awareness Month lasts 31 days, it should serve as a gut check to do the right thing year-round. Learn about a population that represents one in four people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Promote a world where people with disabilities enjoy dignified, productive lives of their choosing as fully accepted members of society.