Written by: Cindy Bahl, Director of Business Development & Amplify! Events
I know it’s only the first week of December, but the holiday season has already begun and winter is just around the corner. Both of these remind me of the new year, new goals, and, perhaps, a new view. From where I sit, my view is outstanding; crisp blue skies, deep blue ocean, birds soaring, and the tree-tops waving in the wind. Yes, I am working remotely, but I couldn’t ask for a better perspective to reflect on the outlook for greater inclusion in the workforce for people with disabilities.
We’ve come a long way in the past five years, especially at a local level with the Oregon Employment First initiative promoting integrated employment in a community-based workplace for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Five years ago, many employers that I spoke with had no idea about Employment First. They were unaware that we have hundreds, maybe even thousands of people right here in the Portland metro area who have the skills and abilities to work.
At Dirkse CC, we have made it our mission to create awareness, to educate, and to inspire employers and our community to utilize this untapped workforce through our Amplify! events and initiatives. I’m proud to say that in almost three years, we have held five events that have brought people together, expanding their vision and encouraging them to change their view of how people with I/DD can contribute to their workforce. From large, international employers like Nike, to large, local employer Oregon Health and Science University and on down to small but mighty businesses like Pest Solutions, together, we are changing perspective, changing the outlook and the view for this under-utilized and historically marginalized group of people.
So, the question today is, “what is your view in 2020?” What will you do to continue this momentum that has begun in the Portland metro area? How do you envision disability inclusion in your workplace and what can YOU do to move the needle toward true, integrated inclusion? Let’s keep this momentum going. If you need ideas or assistance for your next steps, let’s have a conversation about your vision. Let’s brainstorm ways to increase employment opportunities for this untapped workforce that is waiting for you to move forward in 2020.
Cheers to the new year and a new vision for inclusion!
If you would like to schedule a complimentary inclusion conversation, please contact Cindy Bahl, Director of Business Development & Amplify! PDX at 503-258-7715 or firstname.lastname@example.org