October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and a time to celebrate persons with disabilities in the workplace!
You may have seen the commercial/PSA featuring individuals discussing who they are (and how they’re employed) titled “Who I Am”. This commercial is a part of the “What can you do?” campaign, which is also the theme for this year’s nationwide NDEAM celebration.
So, what can you do to help raise awareness during (and after) this campaign?
If you are a colleague of someone with a disability, you can practice and promote tolerance and inclusion. Many people have hidden disabilities that you aren’t aware of, and you may work right next to a colleague whose life revolves around hidden struggles and issues of which you have no idea. Compassion is key. By now I’m sure we’ve all heard some form of the following statement…
“Unfortunately, the disabled community is one in which we may expect to become a member at any given time and without any warning.”
Whether it’s a disability present at birth, traumatic injury brought on by outside force, or the normal aging process, no one is immune to the possibility of such a humbling reality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms this presumption in its Economic News Release, “Persons with a Disability: labor Force Characteristics Summary.” It also re-affirms unemployment statistics based on this community as well as increased incidences of disability documented during the natural aging process.
So, if you’re an employer, consider hiring non-traditional workers including persons with disabilities for positions projected for the New Year. If a qualified candidate can perform the essential functions of the position, meets the educational requirement and can do the job (with or without reasonable accommodations) – then he/she should be considered qualified! There is no doubt that thousands of people with a disability, who are skilled individuals, are more than able to work in various industries/occupations throughout our nation.
Consider revamping your current recruitment strategy for a more inclusive outreach. If you haven’t yet concentrated efforts on doing this, consider no-cost assistance from The Employer Assistance and Resource Network or AskEarn.org, which offers resources for employers in need of direction.
Finally, if you’re in need of a Workforce Solutions Navigator, we (Cornelius Booker, David Spears and I) continue to assist employers in finding qualified candidates to fill self-sustaining employment opportunities. We continue to be a living resource to persons with disabilities, staff and the public at large. We train our staff to be skilled in working with persons with disabilities so that they may “get a job, keep a job, or get a better job!”
What can you do?
Frieda Carmouche is a member of the Regional Navigator team specializing in training, educating and assisting employers, and career center staff throughout the Gulf Coast with community resources, outreach events and technical support in assisting job seekers with disabilities. A native Houstonian with a love of training and development, Frieda has been employed by Workforce Solutions for over 16 years.