EARN Newsletter: June 2022
Including Disability in DEI Priorities and More!
EARN in Action
Including Disability in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Priorities
A new online tool developed by EARN helps employers and DEI professionals integrate proven disability inclusion practices into their organization-wide DEI plan. The tool, which was created based on research conducted by Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies, offers strategies to support efforts to implement, grow and measure workplace policies and practices to ensure they are inclusive, welcoming and accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities.
Supporting Workplace Mental Health All Year Long
During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, EARN released a new learning guide titled “Supporting Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Importance of an Individualized Approach.” A companion piece to the May 18 EARN webinar, the guide explores why using an intersectional lens is necessary to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employee mental health. Further, it includes statistics on the increase in depression and anxiety among certain historically underserved populations, such as people with disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community. It also offers strategies employers can use to foster a mental health-friendly workplace all year long.
Employer Perspectives: COVID-19’s Impact on Employees with Disabilities
In the fall of 2021, EARN conducted a series of focus groups with employer members of the National Industry Liaison Group. The goal of these sessions was to better understand how the shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted various workplace practices, and the implications for job candidates and employees with disabilities. From these conversations, EARN developed documents summarizing employers’ thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on workers with disabilities, including about topics such as remote hiring, training and advancement and performance management.
Developing Maturity Models for Federal Agency Accessibility Programs
Earlier this month, EARN, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office of Personnel Management, hosted the third Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED) meeting of 2022. The meeting shared resources to help federal agencies create maturity models for their accessibility programs. Andrew Nielson from the General Services Administration discussed Section 508 program maturity reporting requirements for federal agencies. In addition, Dr. Rosemary Speers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence explored how the Intelligence Community (IC) developed an information technology (IT) accessibility program maturity model to assess and improve IT accessibility programs across the IC.
Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization
Last month, representatives from EARN joined Disability:IN Wisconsin for a webinar highlighting the Inclusion@Work Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization. The webinar explored the framework’s seven core components and offered strategies to help employers implement them. Speakers from Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Rangam Consultants Inc. provided examples of how they have used the tactics in the framework to improve inclusion of people with disabilities within their organizations.
Disability Employment in the News
EEOC Report on Federal Employment of People with Disabilities
A report recently released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shows that progress is being made in federal employment of people with disabilities. The report found that the workforce participation rate for people with disabilities in the federal sector has increased more than 8% since 2014, although more work is needed on retention and representation in leadership positions. The report also provides recommendations for continuing to expand federal employment of people with disabilities, including by focusing on recruiting and hiring and improving provision of reasonable accommodations.
Celebrating Pride Month
The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is celebrating Pride Month during June by highlighting the many workplace contributions of LGBTQI+ Americans with disabilities. "This month and every month, we in ODEP are committed to ensuring people with disabilities, including those from the LGBTQI+ community, have equal access and opportunity to set and achieve their goals for employment," said ODEP Assistant Secretary Taryn M. Williams. "We want all workers, from all backgrounds, to take pride in who they are, celebrate their different identities, and thrive as members of our nation's workforce and communities."
Accommodating Employees with PTSD
June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, and an opportune time to learn how to support and accommodate employees with PTSD and other trauma- and stress-related disorders, including veterans with disabilities. The Job Accommodation Network offers a range of resources to help employers learn more about PTSD and its symptoms, as well as find practical accommodation solutions for specific workplace situations.
Department of Labor Mental Health Month Virtual Event
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the U.S. Department of Labor held a virtual event highlighting the department's commitment to supporting workplace mental health. "Building Mental Health-Friendly Workplaces" featured speakers including U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su and Office of Disability Employment Policy Assistant Secretary Taryn Williams. It explored topics such as mental health parity and the important role employers play in creating mental health-friendly work environments. During the event, the Campaign for Disability Employment’s (CDE) new “Mental Health at Work: What Can I Do” public service announcement (PSA) was also shown.
Artificial Intelligence in the Hiring Process and the ADA
Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Justice released guidance about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to the use of artificial intelligence in the hiring process. The technical assistance document answers frequently asked questions about how using software that relies on algorithmic decision-making may violate requirements under Title I of the ADA. It also provides practical tips for employers on how to comply with the ADA.
U.S. Department of State
For the U.S. State Department, accessibility is a critical part of the future of work. The agency is revamping its programs and policies for its employees in the U.S. and abroad and accessibility is key to many of these changes. By expanding the use of remote work and utilizing its state-of-the-art Access Center to provide assistive technology to employees with disabilities, the State Department is creating an inclusive, accessible workplace.