EARN Newsletter: August 2021
Neurodiversity Checklist, New Tools for Employers and More
EARN in Action
Today, increased demand for workers in specialized fields such as information technology, financial services, health care and others is prompting more employers to tap new talent pools to meet workforce needs. As part of this, some companies have implemented programs targeting people on the autism spectrum and other neurodiverse individuals. A new checklist from EARN summarizes best practices gathered from successful neurodiversity initiatives, so that employers of all sizes can successfully scale and implement them in a variety of industries.
Job Seeker Observations Implementation Tool
EARN recently conducted focus groups to gather insight into the strategies job seekers with disabilities use and the types of content and messaging they consider most impactful in communicating a company’s commitment to disability inclusion. Based on findings from these focus groups, EARN developed a new fact sheet—Company Website Disability Inclusion Messaging: Observations of Job Seekers with Disabilities—that outlines effective strategies for engaging job seekers with disabilities in the online recruiting and selection process.
ADA Policy Brief and Learning Guide
Last month, EARN hosted a webinar exploring the past, present and future of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it pertains to emerging employment issues. Topics discussed included: COVID-19 safety and health policies, including telework; retraining workers for the post-pandemic economy; accessible technology; the gig economy; artificial intelligence; voluntary affirmative action; centralized accommodation programs; and personal assistance services. EARN also developed a policy brief and learning guide to complement this webinar.
Leveraging Remote Work to Increase Inclusion
The widespread shift to remote work because of COVID-19 has altered the workplace in ways that will be felt long after the pandemic. These changes will likely result in increased flexible work arrangements for a wide portion of the American workforce. A new EARN practice brief explores how, as employers reassess their employee recruitment, hiring, onboarding, compensation and evaluation processes, they can also increase the inclusion of people with disabilities within their organizations.
Disability Employment in the News
White House ADA31 Celebration
July 26, 2021, marked the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and President Biden and Vice President Harris commemorated the occasion with an event at the White House. In addition to speaking about the law’s importance and impact, President Biden signed a presidential proclamation. In honor of the anniversary, the White House also issued a new fact sheet outlining federal resources to support individuals with Long COVID, including several from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Increasing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce
Earlier this summer, President Biden issued Executive Order (EO) 14035, which focuses on increasing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) in the federal workforce. Specifically, the EO calls on agencies to ensure related efforts include people with disabilities by assessing current hiring practices, evaluating equity in employment opportunities and financial security, and improving the process for requesting reasonable accommodations. To help agencies understand their responsibilities under the EO, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a fact sheet about it.
Driving Change through Workplace Accommodation Assistance
In a recent blog post, Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Project Director Dr. D.J. Hendricks explored the intersection between JAN’s history, the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 and the establishment of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in 2001. The blog post shares how JAN has grown over the years and adapted to the changing needs of employers and workers due to advances in technology and other emerging issues, among them the COVID-19 pandemic. The blog post is part of a series sharing best practices in honor of ODEP’s 20th anniversary.
Kessler Foundation Grants
The Kessler Foundation recently awarded nearly $1 million in grants to support initiatives that promote post-pandemic opportunities for job seekers with disabilities. The largest grant went to the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation to develop its Employing Abilities @Work certificate program for human resource professionals. Additional grant recipients include the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and more than 20 nonprofit organizations serving New Jersey residents with disabilities.
Chouquette Chocolates & Confections
Have a penchant for sweets and inclusive workplaces? You’ll find both at Chouquette Chocolates & Confections. Established in 2010, this Montgomery County, Maryland-based specialty chocolatier is committed to delivering not only high-quality artisanal confections to customers worldwide, but also job opportunities for people with disabilities. To source qualified candidates with disabilities, the company works with local disability service providers, among them Cornerstone Montgomery.