October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) which celebrates how everyone’s ability plays a role in diversity. For more than 70 years, this month has educated the public about the value of a diverse workforce. The theme for October 2016 is “Inclusion Works.”
According to Google, inclusion is defined as “the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.” The Job Accommodation Network has further defined inclusion by the following mathematical formula:
RA + EO = I
Now, don’t be as frightened as I was when viewing the mathematical formula – it’s really simple and makes sense. After we identify the variables in the formula it will become more clear.
RA stands for reasonable accommodation.
According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), reasonable accommodation is simply providing assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job regardless of ability. The key word in that definition is “reasonable.” A reasonable accommodation is one that does not place significant difficulty or expense to the employer (which is referred to as an undue hardship).
EO stands for equal opportunity.
All job seekers have equal opportunity and therefore are protected from discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, and ability. Take of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, add age and disability to the mix and you have equal opportunity.
The “I” stands for Inclusion.
Inclusion is more than simply adding someone to a group; it is also including the skills and talents of that person to benefit both the “includer” and the “includee.” Inclusion benefits an organization by maintaining several different skill sets and perspectives in one basket, if you will, without having to consistently look on the outside for those traits.
“Okay, that sounds great and makes me feel warm and cozy; but as a business owner managing revenue and expenses so that I can keep my business afloat: why does that matter to me?”
I’m glad you asked. The following are documented benefits to having an inclusionary strategy:
- Lower absenteeism rates have been found among people with disabilities
- Greater access to a broader talent pool with a diverse range of skills and perspectives
- Reduction in the existing employee’s fear of developing or acquiring a disability that will make them not able to work
- Improved customer service due to increased understanding of how to communicate with people that have disabilities in the community
- Improved brand reputation. 92 percent of U.S. citizens view companies with disability recruitment strategies as favorable
Inclusion opens doors to diversity…which opens doors to innovation…which opens doors to productivity and cost savings…which opens doors to _____________________ (you fill in the blank!).
As we celebrate NDEAM during this month of October, the following link provides ideas on how to get started: NDEAM campaign ideas.
Take a look and comment below some ideas that you may have – see you at work!
David Spears is a member of the Workforce Solutions Navigator team for the Texas Gulf Coast Region. Combining training and education to real world examples, David brings personal and professional experience with disabilities to the table in order to help job seekers with disabilities realize their potential. David has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with over 20 years of experience in the business world.