What steps can you take to make your organization more inclusive and welcoming of diversity? This was a question posed at a networking event that EO DC recently participated in.
In early 2018, EO DC joined forces with the Employer Assistance Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) and DC Metro Business Leadership Network (DC Metro BLN) to host an event to educate entrepreneurs and small businesses on the value of hiring people with disabilities.
At the event, presenters shared resources on building a talent pipeline that includes people with disabilities. In addition, young people with disabilities from around the National Capital Region interested in small business ownership had the opportunity to discuss their ideas with experienced EO DC members.
EO DC Chapter President Marsha Ralls welcomed attendees. “During my time as President of EO DC, my chief priority has been an increased focus on diversity and inclusion, not just among our membership, but in our members’ workforces,” she said. “We’re excited to be working with EARN and DC Metro BLN to help our members learn the steps they can take to make their companies more disability inclusive.”
Michael Murray, director of the Employer Policy Team at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) spoke about the services offered by EARN and how it can assist employers in being more disability inclusive.
How can organizations be more inclusive?
EARN works with a wide range of professional groups, providing resources and support to promote disability inclusion in the workplace. Among their recommendations are:
- Express commitment to disability inclusion, both internally and externally.
- Offer training on disability-related workplace issues to staff members.
- Promote a company culture where employees with disabilities feel comfortable asking for the workplace support they need.
- Establish personnel processes and job descriptions that facilitate the hiring and advancement of qualified persons with disabilities.
What are the benefits to recruiting people with disabilities?
Put simply, recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities is good for business. Increasingly, employers of all sizes are learning that people with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, bring creativity, innovation, problem solving and commitment to the workplace. Studies have also shown that employees with disabilities tend to stay at jobs longer, thus reducing the time and cost involved in retraining and replacing personnel.
Key to ensuring employees with disabilities can succeed on the job is a clear and effective policy for providing accommodations, if needed. Research indicates that providing effective accommodations can contribute to improved productivity and morale, among all employees.
What’s more, recruiting workers with disabilities can help businesses gain insight into a rapidly growing market segment. By some estimates, people with disabilities represent the third largest market in the U.S., surpassing Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as teens and other age cohorts. Thus, a more inclusive workplace can lead to a more inclusive share of the marketplace—a goal shared by all entrepreneurs.
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Written for EO by Katherine DiGiovanni. Photo © Wavebreakmedia