October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
By Tova Jaffee, Career Coach
Inclusion, main-streaming, diversity, melting pot, assimilation. These are all socially charged words that speak not only to the strength of our country, but also to the success of both corporate and small businesses. We thrive on the creativity that people of all nationalities, genders, age groups, diverse experiences, and different abilities bring into the world of work. If we were all the same, it would be a gray and dull world indeed.
With the federal government taking the lead with Executive Order 13548 to hire 100,000 people with a disability within the next five years, there has been a trickle-down effect of employers being more receptive to hiring people with disabilities. Consider the benefits to an employer of hiring a person with different abilities – or, as some say, a person with a disability.
- The business gains a positive public image of a socially conscious and responsible company that values diversity in its employees.
- The rate of employee retention is higher. Employees with disabilities are usually dedicated, committed and focused, thus reducing the cost of high turnover and the need to train new staff.
- People with disabilities are seasoned problem solvers – – because they have to be.
- Very likely they have learned patience since they must usually wait for others to provide assistance or a service, or to deal with a government agency.
- An employee with diverse experiences always promotes creativity, with a “thinking out of the box” mentality. The need for accommodations also promotes new ways of viewing how to get the job done differently.
- This is an employee who is likely aware of appearances and sensitive to helping others; this attribute transfers to the workplace as good teamwork.
- An employee who has acquired a position as a result of “job carving” (that is, a job specifically tailored to the abilities of the client and needs of the employee), will be a “specialist” with a specific skill set for the job required by the employer.
Other “perks” for employers include tax incentives such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, that enables an employer to claim a tax break of 40- 60% off a portion of the salary paid to the employee. Also, DORS (Division of Rehabilitation Services) will pay for OJT (On the Job Training). The salary of the new employee is paid in the first month of training and even up to three months, depending on the severity of disability.
The benefits to employers are clear. Yet much work needs to be done in enlightening employers and co-workers about natural supports in the workplace to foster a climate of acceptance and comfort when working with a person who has a disability. This person may perform the job differently, but still effectively. Educating the public, including employers, businesses, and co-workers, is vital to paving the way for appreciating that providing accommodations, when necessary or helpful, does not mean favoritism, lowering standards, or compromising productivity.
Inclusion in the workplace benefits EVERYBODY!
By Tova Jaffee, Career Coach, JCS Career Center
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.