Employers open to accommodating the needs of their workers often have very happy, loyal and productive employees. What company wouldn’t want this scenario? Surely all companies do, but it typically boils down to a lack of experience in working with individuals with disabilities.

Eric Ellet

Eric Ellet on stage with his guide dog presenting at DEAM15.

Thankfully there are exceptional people like Eric Ellet, Program Manager at Anthem, and former Programs Outreach and Education Coordinator Bosma Enterprises. Ellet presented at the DirectEmployers 2015 Annual Meeting & Conference, encouraging employers to “Open Your Eyes to the Talent Around You.”

Diversity requires broad thinking, he said, and highlighted the following points:

  • Use “People First” language
  • There are many types of people and many different types of disabilities
  • Don’t assume all individuals with the same disability are the same
  • It is okay to ask the individual if they need assistance
  • Most job accommodations are easy and inexpensive
  • Diversity in the workplace creates delighted employees and in turn, delighted customers!

Federal contractors must also comply with Section 503 regulations, which includes taking positive action to:

  • Recruit, hire, promote and retain individuals with disabilities to a level of 7% of their workforce
  • Incorporate specific language into contracts and subcontracts
  • Invite applicants to self-identify as a person with a disability both pre-offer and post-offer
  • Invite existing employees the opportunity to self-identify as a person with a disability every 5 years
  • Maintain records

A person with a disability can do most jobs according to Ellet. There are many different types of disabilities resulting in individuals with many different skills. Contrary to popular belief, many job accommodations are reasonable and easily implemented and depend on the job, type of disability and size of company.

Help is available from employment specialists and job coaches when you need it. Ellet concluded by reiterating that employers who are open to accommodating the needs of their workers often have very happy, loyal, and productive employees who create delighted customers, and delighted customers are repeat customers!

Interested in more best practices for disability outreach and hiring? Log into the Member community, or plan to attend the DirectEmployers 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM16)!


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