In this section of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network monthly newsletter, EARN recognizes 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 Microsoft for its commitment to preparing recruiters to interview job candidates with disabilities.
MICROSOFT PREPARES RECRUITERS TO INTERVIEW JOB CANDIDATES WITH DISABILITIES
Microsoft has a long history of recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities, and believes hiring a diverse population of employees, including those with disabilities, enhances its products as well as the workplace. One of the ways Microsoft prepares to recruit people with disabilities is by providing New Recruiter Orientation training.
During this two-day training for new full-time Microsoft staffing members, modules are presented that teach general disability etiquette (do’s and don’ts) in a relaxed open atmosphere. Also, to make sure that the information covered during the training is readily accessible, an online “Disability Toolkit” is available for recruiters and other staffing members to reference when they meet and/or interview candidates with disabilities. The primary goal of the in-class training and the online tool is to make certain the interview process highlights the candidate’s strengths and qualifications for the position they are applying for.
The Disability Toolkit contains general information and tips about a variety of sensory and mobility disabilities to assist staffing professionals. The toolkit also contains Microsoft points-of-contact who can provide additional assistance for specialized cases, and sample email templates that staffing coordinators can use to contact hiring managers, minimizing distractions and ensuring a great experience for the candidate.
WRP SUCCESS STORY: ENTERPRISING INTERN NOW SEC LAWYER
James “Tyler” Kirk, a lawyer at the Securities Exchange Commission, got his start in 2010 as an intern through the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). Though he lost his eyesight at the age of nine to Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration, he never stopped pursuing his goals. Now 29, he loves his work and the life he has built.
“I didn’t have a question whether or not I could perform the work. I knew I could handle it, but what did concern me was whether or not I could be provided with the tools that I need to do that job because of my disability,” said Kirk, who uses Apple technology because the hardware is equipped with accessibility settings that read text back as a voice-over.
Although the EEOC has not set specific hiring goals for those with severe disabilities, a 2010 executive order called for an additional 100,000 workers with disabilities to be employed by the federal sector by 2015.
“People with disabilities are part of the population, and we want to reflect that. We know the disability workforce is an untapped pool of workers,” said Kathy Martinez, the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, who has been blind since birth.
NOD PRESIDENT CHALLENGES COMPANIES TO HIRE MORE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) is asking the nation’s Fortune 500 CEOs to consider a different approach to their New Year’s resolutions: hire more people with disabilities. Glazer notes that America is facing an impending workforce crisis as Baby Boomers age and retire. By 2030, roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population will be aged 65 and older, and America will need millions of new workers to take the place of retirees in the workforce. Yet, according to the latest NOD/Kessler Foundation Survey of Americans with Disabilities, 80 percent of people with disabilities are not working. Clidk here to read more.
WALMART ANNOUNCES PLAN TO HIRE 100,000 VETERANS OVER FIVE YEARS
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced on January 15 a plan to hire veterans interested in jobs in retail, provided the veterans left the military in the previous year and did not receive a dishonorable discharge. The plan, which will officially begin on May 27, is among the largest hiring commitments for veterans in history and will potentially lead to the hiring of more than 100,000 people in the next five years. Click here to read more.
ODEP VIDEO ENCOURAGES YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES TO PURSUE CAREER GOALS
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Campaign for Disability Employment has released a public service announcement to help people recognize how they can positively affect the future careers of youth with disabilities. The video features real individuals with disabilities and is intended to replace myths and misperceptions about disability employment with new views of what people with disabilities can do. Click here to view the video and learn more.
REPORT SHOWS SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently released a report showing a significant increase in new hires of persons with disabilities since President Obama signed Executive Order 13548 on July 26, 2010. According to the report, people with disabilities including veterans made up 11% of the overall federal government workforce in 2011. “We need the talents and creativity of all people, including people with disabilities, to help do the work of the American people,” said OPM director John Berry. “We are doing anything possible to remove barriers to their employment, and the good news is that we’re moving in the right direction.” Click here to read more.
*In December 2012, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.4% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.6% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 43.2%, not seasonally adjusted.
WORK OPPORTUNITY TAX CREDIT EXTENDED UNDER AMERICAN TAXPAYER RELIEF ACT
On January 3, President Obama signed into law the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012, which authorizes an extension of the WOTC program until December 31, 2013. The law also continues authorization of all veteran target groups (including those implemented under the VOW to Hire Heroes Act) and retroactively reauthorizes all WOTC non-veteran target groups, including individuals with disabilities. The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will be issuing forthcoming guidance on the new legislation. Click here to read more.
OFCCP SLATES APRIL 2013 FOR FINAL REGULATIONS ON VETERANS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Department of Labor recently released its fall 2012 Regulatory Agenda, including the agenda of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Chief among the OFCCP’s projections is the publication of final regulations governing affirmative action for veterans and persons with disabilities with an anticipated date of April 2013. Some of the new elements of these proposed requirements include the development of detailed written accommodation procedures as part of the Affirmative Action Plan and invitation for applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran and/or an individual with a disability. Click here to read the more.
DISABILITY PROGRAMS STILL VULNERABLE AFTER ‘FISCAL CLIFF’ DEAL
Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the future of the nation’s disability programs, despite an agreement to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The last-minute deal struck shortly after the New Year rang in halted tax increases for many Americans but failed to address a series of sweeping federal budget cuts. “Everything is on the table,” said Marty Ford, director of public policy for The Arc. “The next three months will make a huge difference in the way our federal government addresses people with disabilities for years to come.” Click here to read more.
NEW ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR EMPLOYERS AND BUSINESSES
A web portal is now available that provides a wide variety of assistive technology resources to businesses, employers, and those who work with employers seeking to increase the employment of people with disabilities. The site was made possible by an initiative through the RESNA Catalyst Project.
NASA TO MENTOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
A unique partnership kicking off early next year will allow students with disabilities a firsthand look at what it takes to work for NASA. The space agency will provide mentors for a handful of high school students who have autism, learning difficulties or multiple impairments through an agreement with the District of Columbia Public Schools’ transition program. The collaboration is designed to encourage careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, NASA officials said. Ultimately, the mentoring opportunity could lead to summer internships at NASA for some participants, officials said. Click here to register.
CASH PRIZE FOR DISABILITY INNOVATIONS CONTEST
United Cerebral Palsy is offering up cash to anyone who can turn one of three ideas they’ve pinpointed into reality. The reward is being offered for creating a solar-powered wheelchair, a fold-up motorized wheelchair that can fit inside a typical car or a documentary focusing on the successes of people living with cerebral palsy in the 21st century. Entries to the contest are due March 31 and the winners — who will share in the $25,000 prize money — are expected to be announced ahead of World Cerebral Palsy Day on Sept. 2. Click here to read more.
TIME FOR A NEW APPROACH TO DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT
While America’s corporations are slowly warming up to the importance of diversity as a business imperative, a lot of work still needs to be done – and it begins with demanding a new approach to diversity management. It’s time for organizations to invest wisely in diversity management in ways that enable positive experiences and education, and where active participation promotes growth and opportunity; not just for the business but equally for the individuals who are courageous enough to help change paradigms. Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy