A 2020 Vision of Inclusion

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 cindy@dirksecc.com

You’ll Never Know What You’re Missing

The Real Benefits of Hiring People with Developmental Disabilities

Guest Blog by Heather Weldon – Keynote Speaker at Amplify! Rock Stars 2019
Supported Employment Program Manager
City of Seattle, Human Resources Department

“Show me the money.”
“You complete me.”
“You had me at hello.”

What do these famous quotes from “Jerry McGuire”, the film starring Tom Cruise, have to do with lessons learned from the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in our workplaces?

“Show me the money.”

Like many workplaces, ours has a variety of entry-level duties that are sometimes part of the work for higher-level positions. Then, there’s other entry-level work that often “falls through the cracks” because it’s not a high priority, but still must be done! We identify where those basic tasks are and bundle them into jobs for people with developmental disabilities. This results in a more efficient division of labor.

“You complete me.”

Several months after hiring Katie (an employee with a developmental disability), her supervisor told me “before Katie, we were incomplete”. But she didn’t know that until after Katie was hired.  The supervisor went on to say, “it’s as if we are finally whole now. Katie makes our workplace complete.”

You never know what you’re missing when it’s not there.

So, whether you’re more of a “show me the money” kind of person or a “you complete me” type, you’ll benefit from inclusive hiring practices.

Oh yeah, what about “you had me at hello”?  You’ll have to come to the Amplify conference on May 23 to get the answer to that!

Register Today for Amplify! Rock Stars 2019

Secure your spot now and plan on another inspiring morning full of success stories and celebrations!

May 23, 2019 9:00am – 11:30am
Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington Square

Registration is open, but we’re still building out the day’s agenda. Please continue to check back for updates!

Partner with us! You too can become a sponsor and partner of Amplify! Help us promote diversity and inclusion in our workforce and community – ASK US HOW – contact Cindy Bahl @ 503-258-7715 or cindy@dirksecc.com

Job Opportunity Fair

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019
12:00pm – 2:00pm
Embassy Suites by Hilton
Washington Square-Portland-Tigard
9000 SW Washington Square Rd., Tigard, OR 97223

For Job Seekers

  • Select employers who are interested in disability, diversity and inclusion will be on-site.
  • Talk to employers who have part time openings and are ready to hire now!
  • Job Coaches, Personal Service Workers and Employment Specialists are welcome!
  • Bring your resume and come prepared to share your career goal.

Participating Employers

  • City of Beaverton
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Embassy Suites
  • …More to Come!

For Employers

The day includes a 2.5-hour event (details below) and the Amplified Job Opportunity Fair directly after the main event that will help connect you to differently abled Job Seekers with the goal of helping you meet your disability diversity recruitment and hiring goals.

$150 Registration Fee Includes:

  • 1 ticket to Amplify! Rock Stars event (9am – 11:30am)
  • 1 boxed lunch during 11:30am – 12:00pm lunch break
  • 1 table / 2 chairs for Job Fair (12:00pm – 2pm)
  • 1 social media acknowledgement
  • Your logo on the Amplify! website and at the event

If you are an Employer who would like to participate in the Job Fair, please contact Cindy Bahl at info@amplifysuccess.org or 503-258-7715.

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!