If your organization has spent this month celebrating NDEAM, why stop once the month is over? Disability awareness and inclusion are critical aspects of workforce development. We need to keep the conversations going; keep promoting the need to hire those with disabilities or limitations, and the benefits to employers for doing so.
To wrap up the month, we have listed a few of the top ideas from the Dept. of Labor to help your organization prepare to carry on with the spirit of NDEAM for the upcoming year. To see the full list, visit the Dept. of Labor/NDEAM website.
Gather Ideas from Your Corporate Disability Employee Resource Group
Does your organization have a disability-related Employee Resource Group (ERG)? Start your planning efforts there. The members of disability ERGs (sometimes called Business Resource Groups or Affinity Groups) are well positioned to help you brainstorm activities, speakers and topics to include in your awareness-building efforts. ERGs can also serve as a talent pipeline by referring qualified job seekers with disabilities to your organization.
Hold an NDEAM Kickoff Event in October
NDEAM is a fitting time to formally launch disability employment awareness activities — and set the pace for 11 more months of activities designed to promote disability inclusion. Kickoff events can range from large-scale, multi-day celebrations to small brown bag lunches about disability issues. Whatever approach you choose, there are a number of tools and planning resources to assist you in your efforts. Each year, you can use the new NDEAM theme to frame your kick-off event and influence year-round activities.
Host a Disability Mentoring Day
Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing and ongoing mentoring. The nationwide observance is the third Wednesday of each October, but employers may choose to host their own events any day of the year. The American Association of People with Disabilities offers information to assist you in implementing a Disability Mentoring Day. Take advantage of this easy way to connect with great talent while providing young people with disabilities valuable career experience.
Sponsor a “Lunch and Learn” Series About Disability Issues
One easy way to maintain NDEAM momentum is to host a series of monthly “lunch and learn” events for employees. Just schedule the date and place, enlist internal or external presenters, and invite employees to come learn about a range of disability-related subjects. Topics can often be suggested by your disability-related ERG (if you have one) and can include everything from “Communicating with Job Seekers with Disabilities,” to “Creating Accessible PDF Documents,” to “Managing Diabetes at Work.” Such events are a great way to educate staff about disability issues in an informal setting. And don’t forget to survey attendees after each session to gather feedback and solicit new topic ideas.
Provide Volunteer Opportunities to Your Employees
Smart employers know the benefits of employee volunteerism, which include strong team engagement, leadership development and more. In the spirit of NDEAM, why not sponsor opportunities for your staff to volunteer at local organizations that prepare people with disabilities for work? In communities across the nation, there are often opportunities to volunteer your time reviewing resumes, staging mock-interviews and providing guidance on how to dress for success. Connecting your employees to these opportunities is a great way to both give back and raise awareness. And these activities just might help you source talented job candidates with disabilities for your own organization, as well.
No matter which of these ideas you choose, or come up with on your own, adopt ways to keep the issue of disability awareness and the spirit of NDEAM going all year long!