Disability Inclusion : The Power of Resources and Collaboration

CLICK HERE to REGISTER TODAY! Seats are filling fast for this FREE event!

By: Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC – President/CEO – Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

Disability Inclusion in the Workplace: The Power of Resources and Collaboration

Imagine yourself on a rustic deserted island in the tropics. White sand. Palm trees. Crystal blue water. It all seems perfect. You are resting in the warmth of the sun. Then you wake up and realize you have nothing to eat and you don’t know how to survive in the wilderness. All you see is sand, water and trees for miles. What do you do? Where do you turn for help?

Becoming a business where people with disabilities are woven into the fabric of the workplace, supply chain and culture of business may sometimes feel like the deserted island. The concept is welcome and inviting, but the practicalities of how to make it happen leave one questioning where to turn for help.

In my experience helping businesses and job seekers with disabilities, I have found that two factors are vital to success: resources and the power of collaboration.

On the island, there are many sources of food. One just needs to know where to look. In disability employment, information is a click away.  The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) website, www.dol.gov/odep, offers a launching point. It is the only non-regulatory agency of the federal government designed specifically to help people with disabilities and employers/business to promote disability inclusion in the workplace. On the website you will learn about five different programs that can help get you started. Most resources are completely free of charge and some programs help businesses learn about tax credits that help offset costs of implementation.

But what about collaboration? Aren’t you alone on the island? Let’s suppose you awake one afternoon from a siesta in the warm sun. You’re no longer hungry as the coconuts are a plenty and you now eat crickets, the latest rage. Today, however, something catches your eye down the beach. You look closer and you think you see people! Your whole world changes. Now you are not alone; there are others who are also trying to find a way to build shelter, forage for food and make a life. Suddenly, your way is made easier; there is collective energy more powerful than yourself.

Becoming part of a collective group of businesses that promotes disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and market, is akin to discovering that you are not alone on the island. In fact, the more you collaborate the more effective your efforts. You brainstorm best practices, discuss resources and implement innovative strategies. Everyone gains and change happens. I’ve seen it.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness month. In communities around the country events will be hosted to bring together business to begin and/or continue the conversation of workplace inclusion of people with disabilities.  In Portland, Oregon, will you join us for Amplify! on October 19, 2017?  It promises to inspire, equip and unite.

Why attend Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Disability Inclusion : More Than Corporate Compliance

CLICK HERE NOW TO REGISTER TODAY! Seats are filling fast for this FREE event!

By: Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC – President/CEO – Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

Disability inclusion in the workplace: More than corporate compliance.

Employers want to hire people with skills, abilities and talents to meet their business need. If business need is not being met, then companies don’t stay in business. Plain and simple.

This is one of the main reasons disability inclusion in the workforce matters. Business does not thrive in a vacuum. It is dependent on supply and demand, available talent and support of its community.

In last week’s blog I wrote about how a diverse workplace which promotes hiring and advancement of workers with disabilities benefits us all, but what I didn’t say, is that it is not easy. For many employers, the laws and regulations designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment and which encourage greater employment opportunity can be daunting. Translating corporate compliance to solid business practice reflecting the true spirit of non-discrimination, is not easy.

Fortunately, there are organizations like U.S. Business Leadership Network and their local affiliates that band together and inspire, equip and assist businesses in their disability inclusion efforts. Resources such as www.askjan.org also exist to help employers get the training and consultation they need to be successful in hiring and providing reasonable accommodation.

In August this year, I attended the US Business Leadership Network annual conference in Orlando, FL. I kept hearing the phrase, “unconscious bias.” This rang true for me in my experience with employers and honestly, even within myself at times. Most of us hold within ourselves beliefs and opinions that function behind conscious awareness and which sabotage our success in reaching certain goals. I believe that in the realm of disability inclusion that unconscious bias can be insidious and act against our best intentions in hiring.

You might be wondering where to start? I want to invite you to attend AMPLIFY! where you will be among others who are asking the same questions. Join us on October 19th at 8am at Nike WHQ. You can register by CLICKING HERE!

I hope to see you there.

Why attend Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Discovering the Benefits of Disability Inclusion

CLICK HERE NOW TO REGISTER TODAY! Seats are filling fast for this FREE event!

By: Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC – President/CEO – Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

Discovering the benefits of disability inclusion in the workplace: My professional journey.

Almost 30 years ago, I began my career as a job developer, helping people with disabilities get their foot in the door of employment. I was just 22 years old at the time and a recent college graduate. Honestly, I barely knew how to find my own job. But what I quickly realized is that I had a gift of seeing the strengths and potential in my clients and every day that I went to work, I smiled. It was a joy helping people grow in confidence, gain greater financial independence and become integrated into their workplace and communities.

What I didn’t understand at that time, was how my work as a job developer changed business in ways I didn’t expect.

I began to realize that when people with disabilities are employed in the community, not only do their lives improve, but so does the workplace. Like ripples of water that begin to disperse 360 degrees around the small rock thrown into a lake, is a workplace that embraces ability and chooses creative ways to help people with disabilities perform work!

Through the years, employers began to talk about their experiences and take pride in being a disability friendly place to work. I heard about increased teamwork, improved processes, and benefits to the bottom line. Workplaces were not only becoming more inclusive and accommodating to my clients whom they hired but also to their own employees with disabilities. I was thrilled!

I have also learned that there are sometimes challenges. Businesses know their business. They don’t always know how to hire and retain qualified applicants with disabilities. Fears and unconscious bias have, at times, closed the door on a company benefiting from the talent before them. Fortunately, many companies I have worked with reach out for support and training. These are the companies that find the benefits of becoming inclusive of people with disabilities in the workplace!

Why attend Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Inspire to Be Inclusive

By: Dr. Richard Pimentel, Amplify! Keynote Speaker, Corporate and Motivational Speaker, Comedian, Author

CLICK HERE to register for Amplify today! Seating is limited!

In 1969 I came home to Portland with a significant hearing loss and a traumatic brain injury from combat in Vietnam. My plan had been to serve my country and use the GI Bill to study speech communication under Dr. Ben Padrow at Portland State. In 1969 the VA rehabilitation department had a list of the jobs veterans with my disabilities could do. Professional public speaker was not on that list. I had been excluded not because of who I was, but because of the disability I had. I was refused my educational plan “for my own good.” There is a name for this decision model. It is called exclusion.

I went to see Dr. Padrow to tell him I wouldn’t be able to study under him. He told me, he saw no evidence that I still couldn’t achieve my dreams. He only saw evidence of my being willing to give up on them.

Dr.  Padrow rejected the philosophy of exclusion. Instead he embraced inclusion. Exclusion meant that I would have to achieve my goal alone. Inclusion meant that we would achieve it together. For me, it made all the difference in the world.

Inclusion is the foundation of every aspect of successful organizations. The best practice companies know it by another name “teamwork.”

Historically people with physical and intellectual disabilities have been placed into jobs based using exclusion, not inclusion, considering only the jobs that are assumed to be consistent with their disability. This often means that they are not hired for the jobs that are right for them only the ones that are left. Too often there are few if any left.

By using your organization’s commitment to teamwork, inclusion means that you focus on the person with the disability rather than only on the person’s disability. Your company focuses not only on what they can do to be successful,  but also what your managers, supervisors and team can do as well.

Inclusion is not just a program to “persuade” you to hire persons with disabilities. It is the first step to bringing training and guidance to make your management team full partners in your employee’s success and making your employees full partners in yours.

It will make all the difference in the world not only for your employees but for you as well.

What Employers Are Saying About Amplify!

By: Cindy Bahl, Business Development Manager & Amplify! Event Coordinator, Dirkse Counseling & Consulting, Inc.

Last week I wrote about why I think employers should attend Amplify! on Thursday, October 19th.  But why take my advice?  Why not read about what other employers have to say?

I recently had the opportunity to interview three employers who were willing to go on camera and share their “why” and what they hoped to achieve by attending Amplify!  Here are some excerpts from the outstanding video now in production thanks to our friend Elie Bulka at One Click Studio (I just couldn’t wait to share!)

Meet Chris Venneman, Owner of Dryer Vent Wizard; a relatively new company, looking forward to growth and hiring more people for his service-based team who of course, cleans, installs and repairs dryer vents.  Chris shared “I’m interested in attending the Amplify Success! Event in October so that I can find out more about Oregon Employment First and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in our community.”  Perfect reason Chris!

Mark Spiegelberg, Business Development Manager for The Barbers and 10 of the Washington County franchise locations said, “There’s such a great base of people who want to work in the community and I just want to help get the word out because I’ve seen what it does in our business and I really want to encourage other businesses to do the same.”  Mark and his team have done just that by hiring Sign Holders to help bring attention and awareness to their business.  The Barbers really are cutting edge!

Leupold and Stevens is a local employer that you may not have heard about but they are right in the heart of Beaverton; manufacturing military and outdoor recreational equipment.  Sr. Consultant in Employee Relations, Jennifer Hunstman shared “I want to learn more about these work place assessments where we can figure out what jobs we have that match individuals with disabilities skill sets.  This helps us find qualified team members that are part of a largely untapped labor pool out there.”

There you have it . . . Employers giving you their reasons why you need to attend Amplify!  Register Today!

Empower Your Workforce, Affirm Abilities, Amplify Success!

Why Amplify!?

By: Cindy Bahl, Business Development Manager & Amplify! Event Coordinator, Dirkse Counseling & Consulting, Inc.

Why Amplify!?  

You may be asking yourself: Why is Amplify! important to me and my business?  Why should I attend the October 19th event?  How will this event make a difference in my company, in my diversity hiring and overall goals and success?  All good questions that deserve answers. Here are my top 3 reasons why you should attend:

  1. You will be inspired; I can almost guarantee it!  Our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Richard Pimentel (a PSU graduate and Portland native) has an amazing story he tells with his gift of speech, humor and poignant, real-life examples.  He will motivate and encourage you to find your own “Music Within” as well as help others find their music.   Get a preview by watching the movie trailer.
  2. You will be encouraged to look at the abilities of people in a new and diverse way.
  3. You will be challenged to consider how your personal unconscious bias may be affecting your ability to see the many benefits of hiring individuals who experience disabilities, specifically Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).

The previous blog post defined Amplify! as a tool to help employers learn how they can access an untapped workforce by including individuals with I/DD in their workplace. Amplify! Is a cultural movement designed to encourage and equip Oregon businesses to build their workforce and community through disability inclusiveness for people of ALL abilities.

Amplify! Will help you make some noise by:

Amping up your workforce and company culture

Amping up your diversity goals

Amping up our community

This is Amplify Success!  And you won’t want to miss it; October 19th, 2017 – 8:00-11:00am (Plus free breakfast and networking!)  Register Today!

What Is Amplify!?

By: Cindy Bahl, Business Development Manager & Amplify! Event Coordinator, Dirkse Counseling & Consulting, Inc.

What Is Amplify!?

When you hear the word “Amplify” what do you think of? I think of music; sounds that resonate harmoniously and increase in volume and intensity. My friends who play the electric guitar or bass wouldn’t think of performing without their own amplifier to project their unique sounds. They practice and work hard to share the music but it must be amplified to be completely effective.

Amplify! Is an event designed to help the business community hear how they can access an untapped workforce and find skilled, reliable individuals with unique talents and abilities who can contribute to their company growth and success.

Amplify! Will shatter barriers and myths by educating employers on how to attain a more diverse workforce, by bringing motivated individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) into their workplace.

Amplify! Will help employers capture an understanding of their needs and goals, and collaborate with them to find the right fit and path. Results from Amplify! will focus on the individual first, whether a candidate or a hiring manager, to gain a clear picture of what each can bring to the table for a mutually beneficial working relationship.

Amplify! Is a cultural movement designed to:

Empower Your Workforce with training tools and assessments customized to meet specific business needs.

Affirm Abilities by helping businesses identify reliable, motivated candidates while promoting diversity and inclusiveness for people of ALL abilities.

Amplify Success! Speakers and follow up content will help businesses:

  • Improve bottom line through streamlined talent acquisition and retention
  • Encourage a stronger, diverse workforce to include individuals with I/DD
  • Develop an inclusive business culture
  • Help create a more vibrant community

Harmonious sound does not usually occur on its own; it happens when people and their instruments come together, collaborate, practice and perform. The result is accomplished with the help of an amplifier projecting the sounds created. Amplify! Will bring employers together and provide the instruments and tools to help create a more diverse culture with the end result being a productive, inclusive, collaborative workplace and community… this is Amplify Success!

Amplify! Launches Web Site

We’re ready to Amplify! the Beaverton business community… ahead of schedule! Originally targeted for a September roll out, we’re very excited about launching our website almost a month ahead of schedule! Check out all of the Amplify! event information, including details about the event date and venue, our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Richard Pimentel, and register for the October 19 Amplify! event!

Empower Your Workforce
Affirm Abilities
Amplify Success!