Disability Inclusion : More Than Corporate Compliance

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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!

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!