October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but the work doesn’t end in October! There are things you can do all year long to highlight the importance of including disability into your organization’s diversity endeavors.
Host a Disability Mentoring Day
A Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring. The American Association of People with Disabilities has information to help you implement a DMD. This is a great way to connect with upcoming talent while also providing young people with disabilities valuable career experience.
Host a Lunch and Learn Series
Host a series of monthly lunch and learn events for your employees to learn about a range of disability-related subjects. These can be held in-person or virtually with both internal and external presenters. Topics can range from communicating with job seekers with disabilities to creating accessible PDF documents. Survey attendees to find new topics. This is a great way to educate your staff about disability issues in an informal setting.
Provide Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering has many benefits, including team engagement, leadership development, and more. Sponsor opportunities for your staff to volunteer at local organizations which prepare people with disabilities for work. These volunteer opportunities can include reviewing resumes, staging mock-interviews, etc. This helps your organization give back while also raising awareness within your company. You could also find a talented job candidate with disabilities for your organization!
Display Posters Promoting Disability Inclusion
Put up posters in the lobby, break rooms, and common areas that promote disability employment inclusion (in both English and Spanish), and consider updating them each month with specific disability recognition (i.e. Heart Health Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, and Brain Injury Awareness Month). Employees who are consistently reminded that their organization is disability-friendly may be more likely to refer job-seeking friends with disabilities to your HR department.
Incorporate Inclusion Into Your Onboarding Process
A formal onboarding process is a perfect opportunity to educate new employees on your company’s policies and practices related to disability inclusion, from accommodation procedures to your commitment to equal employment opportunities. These practices will help new employees feel good about the organization that the service and can encourage self-identification among people with hidden disabilities.