October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Coleman Professional Services Encourages All to Participate

By Nelson W. Burns CEO, Coleman Professional Services

What's the third largest demographic segment in the United States? The answer might surprise you; it is people of disability. The size of this population—57 million strong (19% of the population) —surpasses Hispanics (18%), African Americans (14%) and Asian Americans (6%).

However, the unemployment rate for people of disability hovers at or around 8.4% nationally while, for people without disabilities, the rate is at 4.4% according the US Department of Labor.

This month, as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) rolls out, it is my mission to ask all northern Ohio employers to foster a more inclusive workforce. This blog provides five tips every employer to can embrace this month, the benefits of hiring someone with a disability and the resources available through Coleman Professional Services.

Weekly Actions for Employers During October

Week #1: Review company policies

This is an opportune time to review your company policies to ensure they convey a commitment to workplace culture inclusive of people with disabilities.  

Week #2: Train supervisors

You can conduct training for supervisors to ensure they understand their role in fostering an inclusive workplace culture.  Such training may include a review of relevant policies, including the process for providing reasonable accommodations to people of disability. 

Week #3 : Take advantage of Coleman Employment Services 

You and your staff can receive free, confidential and expert one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and the disability employment process Email us at EmploymentInfo@colemanservices.org or check out our webpage for the location near you.

Week #4  : Foster Inclusive Internship Programs

Check on your upcoming internship opportunities and make sure they are open to all qualified candidates, including those with disabilities.

Benefits of Hiring People of Disability

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion, hiring people with disabilities is good for the bottom-line. The report has case studies from the following companies: AMC, Ernst & Young, Florida Blue, Manpower, Rockwell Collins, Sprint, Nextel Corporation, Starbucks, UPS, Health Care Service Corporation, IBM, Lowe’s, Merck, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman Corporation, OfficeMax, Inc., The Hartford and Wells Fargo.

According to the Job Accommodations Network annual report, Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact:

  • 59% said the accommodations needed by employers for people of disability cost them absolutely nothing.  These accommodations included:
    • scheduling flexibility
    • allowances in dress code rules or
    • allowing somebody to sit (or stand) when other positioning is customary
    • 36% experienced a one-time cost of $500 or less.

These accommodations resulted in the following benefits:

  • retaining valuable employees
  • improving productivity and morale and
  • reducing workers’ compensation

Employers can receive tax credits. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program provides federal tax credits for Ohio employers the hire people of disability. Credits range from $1200 to $9600 per employee depending on their salary and the number of hours the employee works per week.