Saturday, September 20, 2014

NDEAM 2014: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Creating a Culture of Inclusion for People with Disabilities

The National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2014 revolves around the central theme: "Expect. Employ. Empower." which is all about moving towards creating a culture of inclusion for people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are among the most diligent, capable, talented segment of American society, yet they are often marginalized as they face constant challenges in and out of the workforce.

The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. Held annually (in October), National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.

There are activities by which employers and employees alike can participate in NDEAM to make it a meaningful, worthwhile event, and the Department of Labor suggests some ways, among which are these:
  •  Review policies — NDEAM is an opportune time to review your company's policies to ensure they convey a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture.
  •  Establish an ERG — NDEAM is a perfect time to launch a disability Employee Resource Group (ERG). 
  •  Create a display — NDEAM is a great time to freshen up bulletin boards in break areas or other locations that employees frequent by posting positive messages about your company's commitment to a disability inclusive workforce.
  •  You can find out more helpful ideas and resources from DOL here.
NDEAM traces its history to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was deleted to acknowledge the needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and adopted its current name. Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM, including the selection of its annual theme. 

This year's theme "Expect. Employ. Empower." consists of these 3 powerful words, that refer to the 3 steps involved in the cycle of furthering a culture of inclusion, according to Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. She writes in her article that appears in the department's blog:
"The first step in this cycle is expectation...youth with disabilities must grow up expecting to work and succeed, and the messages can’t start early enough. This expectation must then follow them through school and college and into the workplace, another critical step in the cycle. Employers must foster flexible work environments open to employing the talents of all qualified individuals. When high expectations meet inclusive workplaces, we reach the final step, and what my dedicated colleagues and I ultimately seek to achieve: empowerment."

Diversity companies are among those helping empower people with disabilities as they actively seek them out for hiring. a job board whose job seekers can find jobs from companies that endorse diversity and equal employment opportunities, partners with SubmitReferral, an automated personal referral marketing system with a diveristy base of over 1 million users.

Go to to browse for the many jobs available in diversity companies looking for people with disabilities and disabled veterans to hire.

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