NDEAM can trace its origins back to 1945, when Congress passed a law “to establish the first week in October of each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week,” and after a few iterations over the years, we have the celebration of employment and workplace equity, and of employees with disabilities that NDEAM represents today.
In addition to highlighting the many contributions of people with disabilities, this month’s spotlight serves as an opportunity to reflect on strides taken over the years to support their success in the workplace. It also reminds us that there may still be opportunities to bridge some gaps to ensure access and equity are achieved. And this month is particularly special as it falls within the 50th anniversary year of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. You can learn more about its impact here.
In February 2023, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released a summary of labor force characteristics of people with disabilities based on 2022 data, and a few noteworthy highlights include:
An employer’s first focus must be establishing and maintaining a compliant workplace. Public and private employers largely focus on five important federal laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment and the job application process:
Applicability of these laws on an employer depends on a number of variables, including the number of employees, whether federal contracts or sub-contracts are held, and whether the employer is public or private. Moreover, there are also state and local requirements that may be applicable to an organization. Use NDEAM as a great reason to check in with your internal or external trusted advisors (or both!) to understand how you might be able to enhance your compliance efforts.
Employers and employees alike can learn more about how to participate and promote NDEAM messages throughout the year by reviewing this helpful guide from the U.S. Department of Labor site. Here are a few ideas that might resonate:
As noted in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report previously cited, people with disabilities often find themselves gravitating towards a path to self-employment, as founders and entrepreneurs. In addition to many of the challenges all entrepreneurs face, such as accessing capital, competition for top talent, and adapting to shifts in the economy, individuals with disabilities may also face additional barriers such as lack of mentoring options, access to social support, and space.
Despite these obstacles, there are many notable and successful creators, founders, and entrepreneurs with publicly disclosed disabilities, including:
These are just a few examples of individuals with disabilities who have made an impact across a wide spectrum of industries. If you want to learn more, check out our previous blogs celebrating the superpowers of Black entrepreneurs as well as neurodiversity awareness in the workplace. Active or aspiring entrepreneurs can find additional resources on TriNet’s Historically Underrepresented Businesses page.
Even after NDEAM comes to a close, take the time to consider how your organization focuses on people with disabilities in your workplace. Whether you are looking to expand recruitment talent pools, understand compliance requirements, or simply improve support for employees with disabilities, having the right HR provider, like TriNet, can help your organization to embrace diversity in all forms. You can learn more about how TriNet can help and support your business here.
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