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 AT&T for its commitment to the inclusion of professionals and consumers with disabilities.
AT&T’s ACCESSIBLE PRODUCTS ATTRACT JOB APPLICANTS WITH DISABILITIES
AT&T recognizes that diverse, talented, and dedicated people are critical to their success. They are a leader in providing an inclusive work environment, offering performance-based rewards, and creating cultures of excellence. Recruiting qualified and talented employees with disabilities is an essential component of AT&T’s diversity leadership. Recognizing that leadership from the top is critical for true inclusion, AT&T created the Chief Diversity Officer Forum in 2009. The Forum provides a venue to formally integrate, leverage, and grow enterprise-wide initiatives to become best-in-class from a diversity perspective. In addition to the Forum, AT&T also created the Expert Team on Access and Aging to build greater awareness and shared knowledge around disability and aging while creating an inclusive culture.
AT&T’s actions to recruit and include employees with disabilities are married to its commitment to develop and market products that are usable by customers with disabilities and customers who are aging. With an established reputation for providing accessible technology, job applicants with disabilities have made AT&T an employer of choice.
AT&T’s reputation in the disability community is solidly built on products developed through both tapping the expertise of their employees with disabilities and community engagement. For example, AT&T opened its doors to the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technology (G3ict) that reviewed and documented its internal business processes. The study was conducted by interviewing AT&T personnel and third parties, analyzing the company’s product and service offerings, and examining internal documentation and processes. The results of this study show that the ability of a service provider such as AT&T to deliver effective solutions for persons with disabilities is highly dependent upon its culture of inclusion and commitment to innovation and Universal Design from the inception of product design to point of sales and customer service, as well as dedicated marketing, sales and services resources. The G3ict White Paper also shows that AT&T’s inclusion of persons with disabilities in its internal processes, both via its own employees living with disabilities and through its Advisory Panel on Access and Aging (AAPAA), has played a critical role in its ability to make its products and services accessible and to gather input for continuous improvements and new solutions. Released at the 26th Annual California State University, Northridge Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN) in March 2011, the G3ict study shows how Universal Design is implemented across AT&T’s organization and business divisions and highlights the role of inclusive practices within the company.
SECRETARY OF LABOR AND OPM DIRECTOR PROVIDE GUIDANCE TO FEDERAL AGENCIES ON INCREASING EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) John Berry have sent a letter to the heads of federal departments and agencies reminding them of their roles in implementing Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. The memorandum describes several tools that can be used to facilitate the recruitment and hiring of qualified individuals with disabilities into the federal workforce. Resources include eFedLink.org, the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) and the shared list of people with disabilities hosted on the MAX Federal Community. Click here to read Memorandum.
TRI-UNION SUMMIT JOINS PERFORMERS WITH DISABILITIES & INDUSTRY EXECUTIVES
I AM PWD, a tri-union partnership to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the media, marked the end of its three-year campaign Wednesday, January 11 with a bi-coastal industry summit held via videoconference. Keynote addresses were given by RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad) in Los Angeles and in New York by Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor at the U.S Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. I AM PWD, which stands for Inclusion in the Arts and Media of People With Disabilities, was formed by the Performers With Disabilities Tri-Union Committee of Actors’ Equity, AFTRA and SAG in response to the lack of representation on television and film of people with disabilities. The campaign covers a dearth of stories that explore issues associated with disabilities. Click here to read more.
EEOC’S VIEWS ON ACCOMMODATION UNDER AMENDED ADA DISCUSSED
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is working on new guidance regarding reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act as the ADA Amendments Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2009 and put new emphasis on accommodating otherwise qualified applicants and employees with disabilities, EEOC commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic said during a recent American Bar Association webinar. Click here for more information.
US CUSTOMS FORMS ALLIANCE WITH ODEP TO BOOST DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT
U.S. Customs and Border Protection signed an alliance with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to boost the hiring of people with disabilities and develop strategies that can be replicated by other federal agencies. This is the first federal agency to partner with ODEP to advance President Obama’s 2010 executive order to increase federal hiring of people with disabilities. Click here to read more.
AT&T EARNS RECOGNITION AS TOP EMPLOYER FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
AT&T ranked number one in CAREERS & the disABLED magazine’s 2012 list of “Top 50 Employers” for people with disabilities. The list is compiled based on an annual survey of the magazine’s readers asking them to name the top three companies or government agencies they would most like to work for or believe would provide a positive working environment for people with disabilities. Click here to read more.
*In January 2012, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 26.7% for persons with disabilities compared with 69.3% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 42.6%, not seasonally adjusted.
OFCCP EXTENDING COMMENT PERIOD FOR PROPOSED RULEMAKING ON SECTION 503
After receiving several requests for extensions, OFCCP is extending the comment period for this NPRM for 14 days until Tuesday, February 21, 2012. This NPRM proposes to revise the regulations implementing the non-discrimination and affirmative action regulations of section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Parties interested in commenting can view the NPRM and submit comments by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov and referencing RIN 1250-AA02, or learn more and submit comments at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/503.
WRP GRADUATE LANDS DHS JOB HELPING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Ann Kaufmann was determined to follow in her parents’ footsteps and work for the federal government. The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) helped her do just that. Kaufmann, who has attention deficit disorder and excelled in both undergraduate studies and law school, applied for a number of jobs without success. But then she entered the WRP, a recruitment and referral program managed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Her resume led to an interview with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and an eventual job offer to become the disability program manager for its Customs and Border Protection agency. Kaufmann said her goal now is “to pay it forward and help other people with disabilities succeed.” Click here to read more.
“THAT TIME OF YEAR”: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PLAN REVISION
Many federal contractors and subcontractors use a calendar year for their written affirmative action plans (AAPs). That means that AAPs are typically reviewed and revised shortly after January 1. Given the greater emphasis that OFCCP will be placing on covered veterans and persons with disabilities in compliance reviews and the proposed rules requiring statistical goals, federal contractors are advised to be more specific in describing their affirmative action efforts for these groups. To read tips to keep in mind as you revise your AAPs, click here.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MARTINEZ RENEWS ALLIANCE WITH SHRM
Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez joined Society for Human Resource Management President and CEO Hank Jackson last month to renew an alliance agreement first formalized in 2006. “Today’s alliance renewal is particularly important as hiring begins to rebound after a soft economy. An ongoing relationship with SHRM is a perfect opportunity to alert hundreds of thousands of HR professionals about the skills and talents that those of us with disabilities bring to the workplace,” Martinez said. SHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management and represents more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries.
WOTC LEADS TO HIRINGS IN ILLINOIS, WASHINGTON
The Illinois Department of Employment Security last week reported that state businesses hired more than 27,000 individuals and qualified for $67 million in income tax credits last year through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program (WOTC), according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Meanwhile, Washington employers will collect a record $56 million in 2011 federal tax credits through the WOTC program, according to the Auburn Reporter. The state’s Employment Security Department received more than 48,500 applications for the 2011 credit from 3,192 Washington businesses, a 3-percent increase from 2010.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT WORKSHOP
Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, welcomed federal staff to the department January 13 for a training event jointly planned with the White House, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the American Association of People with Disabilities. Attendees, all members of teams responsible for implementation of Executive Order 13548, heard fresh perspectives from private sector employers about successfully hiring, retaining and developing people with disabilities within their workforces. View the slideshow.
CAMPAIGN FOR DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT ANNOUNCES NATIONWIDE VIDEO CONTEST
The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE), collaboration among leading disability and business organizations funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), announced the launch of its second nationwide video contest to promote the talent and skills that people with disabilities bring to America’s workforce and economy. The CDE is looking for creative, fun, compelling videos of all genres that reflect the diversity of skills that people with disabilities offer, challenge misconceptions about disability and employment, and/or highlight employers’ inclusive employment programs and practices. Deadline for entry is March 30, 2012. Click here for more information.
DISABILITY POLICY SEMINAR, APRIL 23-25
Each year, the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community gathers at the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. to learn more about and discuss the hottest topics in disability public policy. This Seminar is the biggest and best opportunity for advocates to advance the grassroots movement for people with I/DD each year. For more information and to register at a special rate, visit disabilitypolicyseminar.org. Special rates on rooms end March 20.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy