October is Disability Employment Awareness Month

President Obama announced Monday that he was recognizing October as “Disability Employment Awareness Month.” The announcement came at a perfect time for Online Human Resources, seeing as Monday was also the day we went live with our interview with DePaul Industries CEO, Dave Shaffer. DePaul Industries, as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, is a staffing agency for people with disabilities, and the companies looking to hire them. It’s always been an objective of OHR to help encourage HR professionals to take the leap, and hire people with disabilities. “Disability Employment Awareness Month” is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness on this important issues.
54 million Americans live with disabilities. That’s a larger segment of the population than African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians Americans. Even though people with disabilities make up such a large portion of our population, they are still drastically underrepresented in the workplace, causing an annual estimated $1.37-$1.94 trillion deficit in the global economy. We as HR pros are in a unique position to improve these numbers, by making the accommodations necessary to include people with disabilities in our staff.
Accommodating employees with disabilities may not be as large of an undertaking as you’d imagine. Job Accommodation Network (JAN), reports that over 50% of all accommodations have no cost. In addition to the lack of cost associated with accommodating employees with disabilities, JAN’s studies indicate that the majority of employers actually benefit financially by increasing productivity and reducing the cost of training and insurance. Many accommodations just take a little extra effort, and thinking outside the box to help those with disabilities succeed in the workplace.
Another aspect to hiring people with disabilities is recruitment. Many people with disabilities may feel discouraged applying for positions they feel they may be discriminated against. One easy way to remedy that, is to include in the job posting, that you encourage people with disabilities to apply. Including the universal symbol of people with disabilities, the blue and white wheelchair, in the ad, is a great way to signal to people with disabilities that they are welcome apply. Having a set in place policy for hiring, training, and retaining employees with disabilities, is also a necessary element to diversifying your staff with this often overlooked and highly capable group of people.
Your job as a HR pro, is to both find and foster talent, and to make sure your company improves it’s bottom line. By hiring people with disabilities, you can diversify your staff, while improving your companies financial future. October is the month we attempt to shed light on a subject that should be on our minds as HR pros  year round.

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