It seems like every day, or every month, has a special holiday associated with it. For employers, it’s important to commemorate October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, marking and honoring the contributions of our friends, colleagues and neighbors with disabilities while showcasing supportive, inclusive employment practices that help everyone.
This year’s theme, as selected by the national Office of Disability Employment Policy, is Advancing Access and Equity. Expanding the opportunities people with disabilities have to work with or in your company, ensuring equitable conditions and treatment under the law, is a real and verifiable way companies can work to make the world a better place.
Here are some ways you, as an employer, can commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month:
- Review your safety protocols. This is a good action to take once or twice a year as it is, to ensure your team has been properly trained and is up-to-speed on safety requirements and regulations. Do your protocols take into account people with mobility, sight, hearing or other disabilities? Is there a policy in place about ease of access to emergency exits for people who rely on assistive technologies or equipment, including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, etc? If not, now’s a great time to give your programs a refresh and an update.
- Review your policies. What language can be found on your company’s website about hiring people with disabilities? If you cite the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act or other regulations, are you meeting the letter of the law? Do your job postings include language that might deter or dissuade someone with a disability, directly or indirectly, from applying? Being an inclusive employer means you want anyone qualified for a position to apply for it, regardless of any limitations or disabilities they might have. If your position isn’t clearly stated, it’s time to make a change.
- Train supervisors. Your supervisors, managers and team leaders are the ones who should be leading the inclusivity effort. Make sure they’re aware of their responsibilities when it comes to guiding and working with a team. They need to know the important role they play when it comes to creating, supporting and encouraging their teams in an inclusive workforce, including providing reasonable accommodations and sufficient training for employees who need it.
- Train your employees. A truly inclusive workplace means one in which all employees are treated fairly, with respect and decency – not just by supervisors but by other employees as well. Companies need to be open and direct about their commitment to inclusion and a good way to underscore those efforts is through regular training and informational events or discussions. Oftentimes people think the term “disability” only applies to certain mobility, speech or hearing impairments; this might lead to unintentional discrimination or offense by someone who really didn’t know better. By providing regular training and conversations about disability inclusion, your team will know better and will do better.
- Use the resources available to you. Throughout National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Disability Employment Policy releases great information that can be used as resources for your company. This includes press releases, articles, tips and insight shared via social media on topics ranging from how to go about requesting reasonable accommodations, making a workplace more welcoming for employees with disabilities and suggestions for how to recognize the contributions of disabled employees. There’s so much to learn, and we can all brush up on our best practices, and October is a great time to begin the process. Feel free to share on your company’s social media platforms what’s been working well for you!
If your company is looking for more advice on how to best commemorate this important month, or if you’d like help in diversifying your staff, call Davis Staffing. We can help provide tips and resources to expand your disability protections and practices and make your team even stronger. Give us a call today and let’s get started.