The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) monthly newsletter has a new feature called Spotlight. In this section, EARN will recognize employers’ successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. EARN invites employers who would like to highlight their effective practices in employing people with disabilities to submit articles for future issues of the EARN newsletter. This month, EARN spotlights Merck for valuing the unique perspectives of its employees with disabilities.
CHEMIST FINDS SUCCESS WORKING AT MERCK
James Schiller is an Associate Principal Scientist at Merck Research Laboratories. Schiller, a double amputee, supports clinical drug development and is also the lead for Merck Allies for Disabilities, the company’s employee resource group. Merck strives to provide supportive work environments for what it calls “differently abled” employees. According to Schiller, “Merck is a company where you are not only accommodated with any modification that you may need to perform your job, but you’re encouraged to use your unique perspective as a person with a disability to help build value to the business.”
Merck recognizes that people with disabilities already make up a critical part of its global customer base, as well as its approximately 90,000 employees. Merck also takes on other disability-friendly initiatives that help make it an employer of choice for many people with disabilities, such as providing conference rooms and offsite meeting venues that are accessible to people with physical or sensory disabilities.
DOL ONLINE INTERACTIVE ADVISOR OFFERS UPDATED INFORMATION ON FMLA
The U.S. Department of Labor recently released an updated version of its Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Advisor. This online resource helps clarify which employers are required to provide FMLA leave, which employees are eligible to take such leave, outlines valid reasons for leave, employer and employee notice requirements, and other responsibilities under the law. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Advisor was developed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. It is one of a series of elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) advisors developed by DOL to help employers and employees understand federal employment laws and resources. To access it, visit the elaws Web site at www.dol.gov/elaws. To learn more about the FMLA, visit the FMLA webpage at www.dol.gov/whd/fmla.
WHITE HOUSE ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS FOR CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE
This May, the Departments of Education and Labor along with the White House Office of Public Engagement will host “Champions of Change” to highlight individuals, organizations, schools, or companies that are making a positive impact in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for people with disabilities. A Champion of Change may do any of the following: hire people with disabilities in STEM fields; make STEM materials accessible for people with disabilities; advance educational opportunities for people with disabilities in STEM; promote STEM opportunities for people with disabilities; develop programs or initiatives that change attitudes about STEM for people with disabilities; invent STEM products for people with disabilities. Click here for more information.
REVISED ADA DESIGN STANDARDS TAKE EFFECT
The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design took effect on March 15th. The standards are part of the revised regulations for Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The new standards will make buildings and facilities accessible to more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. The accessibility requirements apply to many kinds of facilities, including sports stadiums, court rooms, amusement rides, swimming pools and play areas. The requirements for existing swimming pools will be extended for 60 days. Click here to read more.
“ADD US IN” FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, joined Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez for a meeting with small business representatives to gain insight into their priorities, practices and needs when it comes to attracting, hiring and retaining workers with disabilities. It was the third meeting on the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s “Add Us In” initiative, which aims to assist small businesses in employing people with disabilities. Participants met in work sessions to identify and develop strategies for increasing the capacity of small businesses to employ youth and adults with disabilities. Click here to view the event slideshow.
WORLDWIDE TRANSPORTATION IDEAS SHARED FOR WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES
During a meeting co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the American Public Transportation Association last month, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez spoke to representatives of six foreign embassies about the critical need to address accessibility in employment-related transportation worldwide. Martinez provided an overview of the evolution of disability issues in U.S. transportation policy, including the inclusion of key transportation provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Click here to read more.
PATRICIA SHIU: HIRING CHALLENGES ARE SOLVABLE
Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, knows that disabled doesn’t mean unable. At the American Association for People with Disabilities’ 10th annual Leadership Awards Gala last month, Shiu acknowledged the difficulties faced by many qualified workers with disabilities who struggle to find meaningful employment. “It is a persistent, intractable and insidious problem,” she told the audience of 800. “But it is also an eminently solvable one.” Click here to read Ms. Shiu’s remarks.
*In March 2012, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 25.9% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.1% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 44.2%, not seasonally adjusted.
VETERAN WITH A DISABILITY OVERCOMES PTSD AND BUILDS WALL STREET CAREER
After a tour in Iraq ended in an airplane accident and led to multiple injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, military officer Fred Phelan returned to the U.S. unsure of what to do. He found his answer through the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, where he trained for a job at Drexel Hamilton, a broker-dealer firm that’s also certified as a Disabled Veteran Enterprise. He’s now helping other veterans build new careers on Wall Street, and credits his background in the military for his ability to help build a sense of teamwork among his colleagues. Read the Smart Hire story here.
ODEP ANNOUNCES UNPRECEDENTED GRANT FUNDING
Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez on April 2 announced first-of-its-kind grant funding for four states under the “Employment First” initiative. The effort helps facilitate the full inclusion of people with the most significant disabilities into the workplace and community. Iowa, Oregon and Tennessee will receive grants to assist with planning, policy development and capacity building, as well as assistance from officials in the state of Washington. Click here to read more.
CAPITAL ONE PLEDGES $4.5 MILLION TO VETS HIRING PROGRAM
On March 28, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Capital One announced a national campaign, “Hiring 500,000 Heroes,” designed to engage the small business community in a commitment to hire 500,000 military veterans and their spouses by the end of 2014. Capital One is making a $4.5 million pledge to the National Chamber Foundation and the one-year-old Hiring Our Heroes program to fund the campaign and the chamber’s efforts to support job fairs and workforce training initiatives. A list of Hiring Our Heroes job fairs is available at http://www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes/events. Click here to read more.
EARN OFFERING WEBINAR ON DISABILITY FOCUSED EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS
EARN will be offering a free webinar on April 26, “Disability Focuses Employee Resource Groups: Strategies and Best Practices.” In the past decade, ERGs have become an invaluable tool for attracting and retaining diverse talent and gaining access to new customer markets. This webinar will provide information on disability-focused ERGs and the value they bring to organizations. Presenters will highlight strategies and best practices and describe how utilizing these ERGs enhanced their recruitment, community relations, and other business initiatives. Click here to register.
PRESENTATIONS ILLUSTRATE HOW DIVERSITY FUELS CREATIVE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS AT INNOVATION FEST
DiversityInc’s first Innovation Fest! generated a huge buzz for its unique format—10 rapid-fire presentations from corporate leaders demonstrating how diversity fuels creative business solutions. The 82 attendees from 40 organizations represented 15 different industries, including aerospace, consumer products, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, media, professional services, retail and technology, as well as nonprofits and educational institutions.
Walgreens is expanding its efforts to employ people with disabilities with a new focus on inclusion at retail stores. The company is partnering with local service providers to identify and train individuals with disabilities for jobs as cashiers and other retail positions, company officials said. The efforts are underway in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and New York as well as parts of Wisconsin and Connecticut. Click here to read more.
MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL EXPANDS SUPPLIER DIVERSITY PROGRAM TO VETERAN, DISABILITY AND LGBT-OWNED BUSINESSES
MGM Resorts International is proud to announce that as part of its continuing commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, the Company has expanded the scope of its industry-leading Supplier Diversity Program for suppliers, contractors and professional service providers. The MGM Resorts Supplier Diversity Program now includes businesses owned by veterans, persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals, as well as minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs). Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy