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?
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) was established in 1988 by the United States Congress to take place during October of every year. It commemorates the contributions of people with disabilities to the US economy and workplaces and reaffirms their commitment to providing equal opportunities for all citizens.
Disability statistics to keep in mind
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 2020, only 17.9% of people with a disability were employed by US workplaces.
- Also, in 2020, people with disabilities were much less likely to be employed than people with no disabilities.
- About 10% of people in the US live with a physical, mental, or neurological condition that could be considered an invisible disability, or a disability that can't 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% of those people self-identified as having a disability to their employers.
Use NDEAM as a catalyst to support employees with disabilities all year
Review your company policies
NDEAM is an excellent time to review company policies to make sure they display a commitment to having an inclusive company culture.
Establish an employee resource group (ERG)
You can launch a disability Employee Resource Group, or ERG. ERGs offer employees an opportunity 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.
Create a display
Make a display on your breakroom bulletin boards or in other places that employees frequently visit. Post positive messages about how your company provides an inclusive workforce on all levels.
Train supervisors and educate 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
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 to request reasonable accommodations
- Recognizing the contributions of important leaders in the disability rights movement
Drive a social media campaign
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.
Issue 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 to use, courtesy of the Department of Labor.
Volunteer to 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 during any month of the year.
Strive toward an inclusive workplace
Even though NDEAM takes place during the month of October, inclusivity and recognizing the contributions of your employees with disabilities is 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!