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Diversity and Disability: Expanding Your Pool of Talent

Originally posted to Unleash the Monster by guest blogger, Sheila Newman, President, New Editions Consulting, Inc.

For many agencies, people with disabilities are an overlooked, underutilized pool of talent. Often supervisors think people with disabilities can’t do the job, can’t get to the job, won’t fit in with the team, or will cost more to hire and manage. In reality, agencies that have tapped into this labor pool find a wealth of talented, dedicated, professionals who bring not only the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities, but also diversity in thinking and developing solutions that can really make a difference and improve agency performance.

The President’s agenda increases emphasis on diversity, including the representation of people with disabilities, across the Federal government. Many agencies are taking steps to achieve these objectives. Here’s how you can too:

1. Learn more about the business case for recruiting and hiring people with disabilities and share it with others in your agency. Private sector companies have figured out how to increase their diversity and you can put their lessons learned to work for your agency.

1. Learn about accommodations and share the information and resources with others in your agency. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers advice and solutions on accommodations to ensure that your employees with disabilities are as productive as possible. Your agency may also be a partner of the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), a government-wide initiative to provide accommodations for federal employees with disabilities, and may be able to provide accommodations for an employee at no cost to your agency.

1. Review your diversity programs, training, and initiatives to ensure they are fully inclusive of people with disabilities and reflect all the information needed to achieve your goals. Reach out to your civil rights, EEO or diversity offices for more information.

1. Explore and use federal hiring authorities for employing people with disabilities that can expedite the hiring process.

1. Use the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) to bring students with a disability on board for your student summer internships.

1. Identify positions to start recruiting and hiring people with disabilities. Often the success of one individual and one supervisor provides the model for increasing opportunities throughout your agency.

Quick Links:

* Office of Personnel Management (OPM) -Hiring Authorities for People with Disabilities
* Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
* Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP)
* Job Accommodations Network (JAN)

The facts prove that diverse organizations and teams outperform all others. It’s not just the right thing to do it’s the smart thing to do. So take the first step, ensure that your diversity plans and actions include people with disabilities.

Shelia Newman, President, New Editions Consulting, Inc., has over 25 years of professional experience advocating for people with disabilities and consulting with federal agencies to address disability employment and related issues. New Editions Consulting provides a full range of recruiting, accessibility, and support services to assist federal agencies in creating an inclusive work environment. For more information, please contact: www.neweditions.net; 703-356-8035.

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