Happy Wednesday – Bonus Blog!

Prove them Wrong.

As a business account manager for the End Dependence Kansas Progressive Employment Initiative I spend a fair amount of time online, looking for community partners, searching job leads and providing outreach for the program.  I enjoy learning about other service models and how agencies are implementing successful employment for persons with disabilities.  I came across an article today out of Washington State, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/18/prove-them-wrong-they-are-disabled-_-except-on-the/ discussing their program and how successful it is.  A few of the quotes stood out to me.

The first one was “This is a very stable population of employees; they tend to get into a job and stay in it. It tends to reduce the turnover of entry-level jobs. This was not surprising to me, I know that this population of personnel reduce turn over and often absenteeism.   A local retired banker told me once, years ago he hired a young lady with MS.  She was always on time, pleasant, eager to work and enjoyed her days.  She was at time in pain, but worked through it and always brought cheer.  He began to notice that employees were not calling in as often as before she was hired.   As they witnessed her come to work, every day, and smile through her conditions, they too could come in.  She, without knowing it, encouraged them to do their best, and to appreciate their jobs that much more.   The bank manager never saw her as a person with a disability, he saw her as a champion, a great employee and a tremendous morale booster for his staff.  To this day he does not see a person with a disability, but a potential team member.

Stories like this are rewarding to hear and inspire me to keep advocating for applicants with disabilities. Unfortunately, these stories are the exception, not the rule.  With a disability, finding work becomes much harder. Nationally, only about 20 percent of disabled working-age adults have a job. That compares to more than 68 percent for people without a disability, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The second statement that stood out “By bundling entry-level tasks, they can save professionals up to 20 percent of their workday that they otherwise would have spent doing specialized work. “It’s a better, more cost-efficient division of labor.”   Imagine hiring someone to do the more entry level tasks to free up your staff to do more specific, crucial work.  How more proficient could your staff be?   By providing a person with a disability a job, a career, a pathway to independence all while you are streamlining your productivity.

How do we make this model, inclusion, hiring diversity, partnering for independence the norm, versus the exception?  What will it take to prove to employers that a disability does not equal unable.

If you would like to know more about progressive employment and how it can benefit your workplace, contact me hdean@pilr.org

-Heather D.