The Oregon Disability Diversity Challenge: Employers Take First Steps!

Last month we shared that we were excited to meet and begin having conversations with employers who responded to the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge given at the Amplify! Success event in October.  To date we have met with ten employers and are in the process of creating customized action plans based upon their identified strengths and needs.

Each employer participates in electronic surveys based upon the Internationally acclaimed “Windmills, Changing The Perception of Ability” disability diversity training program – one for HR Professionals and one for Managers or Supervisors. After the surveys are taken, Dirkse CC does an analysis of survey results and makes recommendations for which modules of the Windmills programs will best suit their expressed needs. Following this, customized training sessions, in 1-2-hour time blocks of time are scheduled.

The surveys are quick and simple, taking only 3-5 minutes to complete but they provide a pulse to guide our recommendations and prioritize diversity training within the organization.   A menu of options is provided along with available training dates and times.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE for you and your business/organization to respond!  If you completed the challenge and have been kept busy by year end and holiday activities but want to take advantage of this opportunity in early 2018, please contact us today!

If you did not attend Amplify! Or complete the challenge but want more information on how your business can participate in this FREE, granted-funded disability diversity analysis and training, please contact us today at info@amplifysuccess.org!

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

Happy Holidays from the Dirkse Counseling & Consulting and Amplify Success Team!

It All Starts with a Conversation

Once again we want to thank those who attended Amplify Success on October 19th and for those who expressed interest in the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge!

We wanted to share with you some of progress to date and the process we will use to help Oregon Employers become more diverse and inclusive in the workplace and to especially include individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).

The first objective of Amplify! was to engage people within any level of an organization, company, or government entity to begin to make a difference in the recruiting and employment of job seekers with I/DD. Whether those who responded want to dive right in and get all AMPED UP, or get more information and develop a vision, it is all good and we can help!

What’s Next?

We currently have appointments with 10 employers who responded and want to get “All Amped Up” before the New Year!  There is still time and opportunity for you; just reach out and we will connect.

The process begins with a simple conversation around the following goals:

  • To hear your vision
  • Discuss your current disability employment practices
  • Identify your strengths and needs
  • Develop an action plan

We look forward to reporting on the progress of these activities and next spring sharing the success stories that come from employers taking these first steps.

SAVE THE DATE:  Thursday, May 31st, 2018
“We Amped Up”!

A wrap up event hosted by Embassy Suites, Washington Square in order to share and honor those employers who took the challenge! Watch for more information in the coming months!

Cindy Bahl
Business Development Manager & Event Coordinator

Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC
President/CEO

Why Amplify!?

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

Employers Discuss Disability Inclusion and the Amplify Event

Why attend Amplify!?

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

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

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.

Empower Your Workforce
Affirm Abilities
Amplify Success!