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Northrup Grumman: Leading the Way in Workforce Disability Education

Employer Case Study: Learn about creating a disability-inclusive workforce through staff education and training.

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Northrop Grumman

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As employers increase their outreach to job candidates and employees with disabilities as well as wounded and injured veterans, a critical element is workforce and workplace education. When an employer commits to creating a “disability friendly” workplace, dispelling misinformation and stereotypes is accomplished through education and raised awareness.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American multinational aerospace and defense technology company. Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems Sector, working with a consultant and expert in the field of disability education, developed a “Disability Etiquette and Awareness” module. The module is a two-hour workshop, offered to managers and employees throughout the sector. It is a live training workshop, led by an instructor and intended to be interactive with the attendees.

The module is presented in three interlinked segments: Information, Cultural Awareness and Application. The Information portion consists of an interactive quiz related to disability statistics, information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the impact of the subsequent ADA Amendments Act. The Cultural Awareness portion addresses basic protocol when interacting with coworkers and job candidates with disabilities, reasonable accommodations and specific types of disabilities. This section includes parents of children with disabilities, confidentiality and service animals. The Application portion uses news vignettes and internally developed videos that address myths and stereotypes affecting people with disabilities. The module ends with an update of the initiatives and partner organizations that Northrop Grumman has adopted and embraced.

The challenges facing the disability community are misinformation, myths and stereotypes. Society and individuals too often view this community through their own misperceptions about disabilities. People often fear saying or doing the wrong thing when interacting with a person with a disability. It becomes easier to avoid them than getting to know them. Through information and basic protocol, the intent is see the person first, not the disability.

The goal is to raise the comfort level which leads to inclusion and a higher level of interaction. A simple but impactful prompt posed to the class is, “Please raise your hand if you have a friend or family member with a disability.” Invariably, one out of three raises their hand. They are then asked, “Do you treat them any differently than you do other friends and family members?” They say of course they don’t and they let us know why. They are then asked, “Then why treat those we don’t know differently?” This initiative is approached from the perspective of diversity and inclusion. Disability knows no gender and includes all ethnicities, races, religions or place of origin.