A good indicator of a strong workplace culture is its commitment to diversity and inclusion, where your employees feel comfortable coming to you to voice their opinions and concerns. When employees work in an environment where they feel valued, productivity increases.
Employees with disabilities contribute to the workplace in many ways, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month recognizes this.
What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?
The United States Congress established the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in 1988. It takes place every October, commemorates the contributions of people with disabilities to the US economy and workplaces, and commits to providing equal opportunities for all citizens.
Acknowledge these disability statistics
To create a clear understanding of the relevant challenges people with disabilities in the workplace face daily, here are some vital statistics to keep in mind:
- In 2021, only 19.1% of people with a disability were employed by US workplaces.
- Also, in 2021, people with disabilities were much less likely to be employed than those without disabilities.
- 26% of people in the US have some type of disability, and about 10% of these people live with a physical, mental, or neurological condition that could be considered an invisible disability, or a disability that cannot be seen from the outside.
- A survey given to white-collar college-educated workers in 2017 showed that 30% of people identified as having a disability, but only 3.2% self-identified as having a disability to their employers.
Use NDEAM as a milestone in supporting employees with disabilities all year
Make sure your company policies are inclusive
NDEAM is an excellent time to review company policies to make sure they display a commitment to having an inclusive company culture.
Form an ERG (employee resource group)
You can launch a disability Employee Resource Group, or ERG. ERGs allow employees to connect and receive support from others with similar backgrounds or interests. If your company has an established ERG, use NDEAM to remind employees of the resource.
Communicate to your employees
Make a display on your breakroom bulletin boards or other places employees frequently visit. Post positive messages about how your company provides an inclusive workforce on all levels.
Train and educate supervisors and employees
Both supervisors and employees have an impact on company culture and inclusion. During NDEAM, conduct training such as:
- What everyone's role is in fostering an inclusive culture
- Reviewing relevant workplace policies
- How to provide reasonable accommodations
- Proper recruitment, interview, and workplace etiquette
Create content related to NDEAM
You can publish content such as blogs, videos, or a website page that is related to topics like:
- Your company's commitment to inclusivity
- The process of requesting reasonable accommodations
- Recognizing the contributions of influential leaders in the disability rights movement
Post on social media
NDEAM provides resources, such as posts and images, to use on your company's preferred social media platforms. Use the provided posts and tweets with the suggested hashtag #NDEAM to spread awareness.
Write a press release
Employers can issue a press release to announce their involvement in NDEAM. A "fill-in-the-blank" template is available for your marketing team, courtesy of the Department of Labor.
Participate in Disability Mentoring Day
Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for youth with disabilities through:
- Hands-on programs
- Job shadowing
- Ongoing mentoring
Disability Mentoring Day is observed on the third Wednesday of each October, but you can host your own event any day of October or any month of the year.
Value and empower your employees
Even though NDEAM takes place during October, inclusivity and recognizing the contributions of your employees with disabilities are important every month and every day of the year. A workplace where everyone feels like a valued team member contributes to a strong, healthy company culture and empowers employees to go above and beyond for you, their team members, and the company.
And a workplace where all employees feel valued and empowered is something every employer should strive toward!
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