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 Northrop Grumman Corporation for their efforts to create a “disability-friendly” workplace.
WORKPLACE DISABILITY EDUCATION AT NORTHROP GRUMMAN
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 – Electronic Systems Sector, working with a consultant and expert in the field of disability education, developed the “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 ADA, and the impact of the subsequent ADA Amendments Act. The Cultural Awareness portion addresses basic protocol when interacting with co-workers and job candidates with disabilities, reasonable accommodations, and specific types of disabilities. This section includes parents of special needs children, 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 have 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 question 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 his or her hand. We then ask, “do you treat them any differently than you do other friends and family members?” Of course they don’t and they let us know it. We then pose the question, “then why do we 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.
DOL, CONGRESSIONAL AND COMMUNITY LEADERS REFLECT ON ODEP’S 10th ANNIVERSARY
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris commemorated the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s 10th anniversary December 14th by celebrating the positive impact ODEP’s programs and initiatives have had on major industry leaders and on the disability community. ODEP was established within the Labor Department to make disability employment policy a permanent part of its overall employment agenda. In addition to working with other agencies across the department, ODEP’s mission includes working with outside federal agency partners to develop national disability employment policy, which will promote the recruitment, hiring, and advancement of people with disabilities.. “Thanks to ODEP’s hard work, the conversation has shifted away from whether people with disabilities can work to what tools and supports are needed to assist them in doing so,” said Secretary Solis. Click here to read more.
PROPOSED HIRING GOAL AN IMPORTANT TOOL FOR MEASURING PROGRESS TOWARD EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT
A national utilization goal for individuals with disabilities recently proposed by the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will not act as a hiring quota or a restrictive hiring ceiling for federal contractors, according to Naomi Levin, OFCCP’s branch chief for planning and programming development during a Dec. 20 agency webinar, but “…an aspirational equal employment opportunity objective and a very important tool for measuring contractor progress toward equal employment opportunity.” OFCCP announced its utilization goal proposal in a notice of proposed rulemaking published Dec. 9 in the Federal Register (9 WLR 1945, 12/9/11). Click here to read more.
EEOC ISSUES 2011 PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued its Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2011. During FY 2011, the EEOC received a record number of discrimination charges – nearly 100,000 against private sector employers alone—and recovered a record $364 million through administrative enforcement. The EEOC still has over 78,000 pending charges at the close of the fiscal year and will continue to align its resources to pursue enforcement initiatives in areas where it believes it can achieve those monetary results, including through settlement or conciliation. Employers should be aware of the EEOC’s continued emphasis on its systemic initiatives and be prepared to act if the EEOC begins to show an interest. Click here to read more.
*In December 2011, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.9% for persons with disabilities compared with 69.5% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 41.6%, not seasonally adjusted.
NEW YEAR BRINGS NEW LAWS COVERING VETERAN HIRING
In November, President Obama signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act that provides employers with tax credits for hiring veterans. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides additional training to veterans in what the Department of Labor defines as high-demand job sectors. To qualify, veterans must participate in the Transition Assistance Program, which provides employment training and job search skills. Click here for more information.
ODEP AND CBP SIGN ALLIANCE AGREEMENT TO INCREASE FEDERAL AGENCY HIRING OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar signed an alliance agreement on January 7 to advance President Obama’s executive order to increase the hiring of people with disabilities by federal agencies. Click here to read more.
FREE DISABILITY DISCLOSURE WEBINAR, JANUARY 18
The Cornell University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employer Practices Related to the Employment Outcomes Among Individuals with Disabilities (Employer Practices RRTC) and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) are sponsoring this webinar to inform employers about inclusion best practices, complexities, and big-picture implications.
EARN TO OFFER FREE WEBINAR ON WRP SERVICES, JANUARY 26
The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a free resource available to employers looking to hire qualified, motivated college students or recent graduates with disabilities for summer internships or permanent positions. This free webinar will provide private businesses and federal contractors with information on submitting requests and the procedures used to match candidates with available opportunities.
MID-ATLANTIC ADA CENTER PRESENTING 3-PART WEBINAR SERIES
A webinar series focusing on the highlights of the new 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design will take place on January 31, February 7, and February 14, 2012. The cost is $50 for each participant for all three webinars in the series. LU/HSW credits from the AIA will be available. For registration and more information, click here.
2012 IDEAS CONFERENCE, JANUARY 18-19
The 2012 Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase (IDEAS) conference will be held January 18 – 19, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. each day in Washington, DC. The free conference and exhibit will focus on Section 508 compliance and accessible workplace technology. Attendees will learn about the President’s Executive Order to increase the hiring of people with disabilities; Section 508 compliance in federal agencies; reasonable accommodations; and accessibility in the workplace.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy