Community Partnerships: An Effective Inclusion Strategy
Explore information about creating and sustaining effective community partnerships.
Community partnerships are outcome-based relationships that can facilitate disability hiring and retention efforts. Regardless of size, employment sector, or industry, businesses benefit from agreements with national, regional, and local organizations.
Finding Applicants with Disabilities
Many organizations can help your business hire, retain, and support employees with disabilities. Some of these organizations are large and work across the country or a state; others are small and may only work in a single city or county. Below are a few profiles of these organizations.
Creating Community Partnerships
If you are planning a partnership to support hiring or retaining employees with disabilities, check if the partner meets some or all these criteria:
Remember that some organizations are highly specialized and may only focus on certain aspects listed here. For example, some groups focus on helping procure assistive technology for workers with disabilities and train them to use it. Other organizations focus on one area – even one neighborhood – or one type of disability.
Deepening and Sustaining Partnerships: Steps to Success
Take these steps to make your relationships with community partners more useful and sustainable:
- Get involved. Reach out to learn about the systems, organizations, and services already in place to support employment for people with disabilities. If your organization works in multiple places, embed personnel wherever you recruit, to better understand local and regional disability workforce partners and initiatives.
- Invite collaboration. Find partners willing to assist in locations where candidates will be recruited and trained. Get involved in activities such as business advisory groups, job fairs, and event committees.
- Evaluate fit. Find potential collaborators who share your values and objectives.
- Dedicate resources. Develop relationships and find the resources you need to fuel partnership efforts, such as funding for supportive services or training from local agencies, or sponsoring disability-focused career events.
- Expect relationship development to take time. Many projects or joint efforts require time to plan. In addition, both sides need time to learn how each partner’s process works and in what ways they work best together.
- Identify gaps. Use strategic relationships to fill gaps in the internal process. For example, seek out partners who can help with the use and integration of assistive technologies in the workplace. Some businesses leverage partnerships to increase capacity with hiring initiatives. Many organizations develop partnerships with agencies that can supplement on-the-job coaching and training assistance provided by managers.
- Identify mutual goals. Ensure partners can meet your workforce needs for a diverse candidate pipeline, training, or supportive services, as defined by company objectives. Potential partners will also have criteria for outcomes.
- Measure progress. Create metrics to analyze progress and use them to define success. This can be done by tracking the number of candidate referrals who are converted to hires, or the number of trainees who complete a sponsored training program. Celebrate the wins along the way.
- Evaluate and refine. Regularly meet and communicate to evaluate partnership agreements to ensure progress toward intended outcomes. Make changes as needed to ensure investments in workforce partnerships are yielding results.
Below are case studies regarding businesses that have taken steps to develop partnerships with organizations to help include more people with disabilities in talent pipelines and workplaces: