National Disability Employment Awareness Month
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Designated by Congress in 1945 to educate people on issues related to disability and employment, the observation was initially a week–long event called "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week". In 1962 the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge all forms of disabilities, and in 1988, Congress expanded the week–long observance to a full month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
This year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has chosen the theme of "Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities." A theme, which was selected because it recognizes the contributions of employees with disabilities and the skills they bring to the labor pool.
For all the advancements in laws, awareness of this issue and the hiring practices made over the past decades, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities unfortunately remains proportionately high, as compared to non–disabled Americans. Approximately 970,000 people with disabilities, or in excess of 16 percent, are still unemployed in the United States.
For employers looking to promote their equal opportunity hiring practices, there are many good reasons to hire qualified candidates with disabilities. The first of which includes promoting their equal opportunity hiring initiatives. Hiring employees with disabilities – and other diversity needs – promotes your business as an inclusive workplace. This will go a long way in not only engendering the support of employees, but also the community as a whole.
Compliance is also an important reason to focus on this segment of the labor pool. Legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is just one of the many laws that businesses need to abide by to ensure they do not discriminate in their employment practices. Some businesses are also eligible for government support in the form of tax credits.
As with all hiring practices, looking at a larger pool of candidates is critical. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, most employees with disabilities require no special accommodations and the cost for these workers is lower than employers think, as uncovered by a study they conducted.
Ultimately, hiring a qualified person who happens to be disabled is a good thing to do.
To promote your company’s diversity hiring initiatives, visit our Disability Job Exchange today.