Shaping a More Inclusive Workplace

by Kathy Martinez on August 4, 2011 · 339 comments

Today, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) will host its first National Diversity Forum at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center,.  This event is part of Add Us In – an initiative with the main goal of identifying and developing strategies to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities in small business communities.  This specifically entails those located in or serving underrepresented and historically excluded communities, including those owned and operated by ethnic and racial minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; veterans; women; and people with disabilities. 

Add Us In is not only a project that is a priority for the department, it is also a project that is very close to my heart.  Like so many of you, my life has been profoundly impacted by my various identities and experiences.  Disability, race, gender and sexual orientation have all shaped the person I am today. 

I faced multiple challenges in becoming successfully employed, as many people with disabilities do.  We are often unable to find sustainable employment opportunities, and struggle to manage prejudice, our own disability related needs and other challenges.  Just like many other underrepresented and historically excluded groups, we bring incredible skills to the workplace; we just need the opportunity to prove ourselves to be motivated and productive employees who contribute to the bottom line.

I think that we can all agree, no matter who you are or where you are from, that work is about dignity and respect.  A critical part of our National Diversity Forum is a Plenary Dialogue including questions around employment strategies for people with disabilities, business hiring practices, resource coordination and sharing, and understanding the role of community supports. Our goal for this Plenary Dialogue is to learn from you and to hear your shared ideas and personal examples that move us forward towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

However, I know that not everyone can come to Washington DC or be present at this Forum.  To ensure that participation is possible for everyone, I would like to share with you the six questions that will shape the Plenary Dialogue:

  1. What are key elements of disability hiring that differ between large and small businesses?
  2. What do small businesses need to increase the number of people with disabilities within their ranks of employees?
  3. How can the benefits of diversity (including disability) hiring be better promoted?
  4. How do you suggest coordination between education and employment systems be increased to ensure greater employment for youth with disabilities?
  5. How do you think workforce systems and employment policies can be made more responsive to communities that are culturally and linguistically diverse? 
  6. How can ODEP and employment systems better engage with “influencers” such as family, faith and other community supports in underserved communities?

Please feel free to email me with your feedback at: Kathleen.martinez.public@dol.gov or post a comment to this blog. I look forward to hearing from you, and together we can lead the way toward creating a more inclusive workplace.

Kathy Martinez is the assistant secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

{ 339 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie steward March 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I for one commend any efforts at making workplaces more accommodating for all Americans. We as a society have to come to terms with our beliefs and notions regarding the capabilities or abilities of Americans with disabilities. One of the most powerful examples that I have seen in my life, is that of a fellow educator who happened to be wheelchair bound. His tenacity and eternal sense of hope was something that few of us could ever hope to emulate. Unfortunately, I was also there to witness moments that were less than ideal. His not being able to travel from one place to another due to inadequate access points, or faulty ADA compliant equipment. We have a long way to go still, but its definitely a step in the right direction.

2 project training March 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm

i think the advent of virtual teams provides a level set for equality. people with disabilities now have equal access to remote work opportunities.

3 Hayley Clare March 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Remote working is a godsend for those who need it. It also allows employers to choose people who are perfectly capable, but otherwise could not make it into the workplace.

4 Michael Clough March 23, 2014 at 6:53 am

Remote working is the way of the future and I think this will increase massively in years to come, just think about some of the major benefits to the environment, workers can stay home and not have to use private or public transport saving valuable fuel and not polluting our air, Another factor is we would need less offices in the cities saving valuable resources.

Michael

5 Matt March 26, 2014 at 3:37 am

I think it still has a long way to go. In our side, we can see that people with disabilities everywhere their outstanding work. But we can not deny that there is a lot of work still has limitations. Courageous first step , I believe in the future , everything can become easy.

6 Gokhan March 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Disabled people are generally a good role model for all workers. Makes the believe that any kind of trouble can be overcome by working hard.

7 Duncan - Vetter March 30, 2014 at 4:22 am

I think tech companies (such as where I work have to take a certain amount of responsibility about designing products that are more inclusive.

8 Amin March 31, 2014 at 8:27 am

Great articles thanks for sharing. I think hiring people with disabilities is a very good thing.

9 Yacon syrup review April 8, 2014 at 11:26 pm

I think the toughest topic brought up is the lingual barrier workers. There are many jobs that really need to have proper English speaking workers to do the job. What are the real options?

10 aacopiadoras April 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm

More initiatives like this one should exist. Keep the good work!

11 obat aborsi April 24, 2014 at 8:14 am

wawww really motivating for the people and convenient to read more ..
thanks in advance

12 Shannon May 2, 2014 at 3:18 am

I think diversity in any organization is extremely important. Disabled people generally have a stronger will power which benefits all. Even in my organization we have disabled people working along with us. As a matter of fact they are not any different from any of us. Moreover, they are better than most of the others. We need to sensitize our society more.

13 Andrew May 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Working toward a more inclusive workplace is a great goal, and one that is worth fighting for. Laws are definitely out there that do their best to provide for those with disabilities, and ensure that employers use fair hiring practices, especially in regard to those with disabilities. While employers shouldn’t hire someone that isn’t able to do the job, many people face disabilities but are still able to be excellent contributors full-time for employers, and employers should be very careful to evaluate every potential hire equally.

14 majidchan May 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

thANK YOU… I think the toughest topic brought up is the lingual barrier workers.

15 Xavier Major May 15, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Remote working is going to be huge in the coming years. I think this should be more prevalent in the workplace not only is it allowing people to enjoy more time at home, it also makes a huge impact on the environment. It will only be a matter of time before everything will be done remotely.

16 Mohammed Saimon May 18, 2014 at 3:14 am

wow its really a motivational post. Thank you

17 Gordon White May 20, 2014 at 4:47 am

Thank you for this article. All employees should be treated fairly, able or disabled, if managers expect production to increase. Once again, thank you for sharing!!

18 iteamstudio May 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm

thANK YOU… I think the toughest topic brought up is the lingual barrier workers.

19 Jerry Driscoll May 22, 2014 at 7:17 pm

One unspoken problem with some companies hiring “disabled” people has to do with lawyers. Any company that hires people with certain types of disabilities can place themselves at legal risk. The government needs to address litigation problems and risks for small business owners.

20 Jade Cebrese May 23, 2014 at 12:00 am

I find it interesting that this article pushes only the concept of hiring disabled people. Why is there no encouragement for disabled people to be entrepreneurs? America was founded on personal initiative and self determination. To me, this article seems to have an underlying message that disabled people have to be helped by others in order to succeed. Personally I encourage anyone to explore the full pursuit of the American dream – it’s yours if you’re willing to work hard.

21 web designing company in delhi June 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Looking forward for this one… people with disabilities will be benefited most as equal equal access for remote work opportunities.

22 BethNorrisDesigns June 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Agreed as written in your article “no matter who you are or where you are from, that work is about dignity and respect”. Everyone deserves dignity and respect and glad you have a position you enjoy. The myriad of experiences help make us unique and if we allow it can grow us and bring creativity to our jobs and workplaces. As a self employed Interior Designer disability access is an important factor to the designs that are created. they must be just as functional as they are beautiful, like each person in their own way. Thanks for sharing your heart.

23 Indonesia Furniture July 11, 2014 at 12:13 am

Everyone deserves dignity and respect and glad you have a position you enjoy

24 Mr Long July 11, 2014 at 9:20 pm

One unspoken problem with some companies hiring “disabled” people has to do with lawyers. Any company that hires people with certain types of disabilities can place themselves at legal risk.

25 tran cong vinh July 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

I find it interesting that this article pushes only the concept of hiring disabled people. Why is there no encouragement for disabled people to be entrepreneurs? America was founded on personal initiative and self determination.

26 Harry July 13, 2014 at 8:12 am

I remember reading a report in 2011 that showed alarming racial and ethnic disparities still in the US. Of particular concern was the difference of longevity of different racial groups, with a significant inequality of living standards and lifespan between white and black. I would suggest that data be compared with other disparities in education, employment, public spending in each county, and population density. It would also be interesting to compare life expectancy of urban populations vs rural populations etc. I fear that much racial inequality is not due to discrimination, but due to systemic problems in the way racial groups are still left geographically and socially as a result of past generations being discriminated against and pressured. There are stories of individuals whose opportunities are physically constrained by their location and their unfortunate background. Past discrimination leaves a strong structural footprint in society itself, even in 2014 when people imagine the effects of such injustice are gone.

27 Mohamed Farah July 17, 2014 at 12:57 am

Thank you very much, this post was very inspirational. I can’t thank you enough

28 WebDesigner Central Coast July 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

Hello, just thought I would add my comment here as well.. “I faced multiple challenges in becoming successfully employed, as many people with disabilities do. ” with this comment it made me remember a good friend who I worked with for some time, who when applying for a job as a website designer, he was always knocked back because of his disabilities… not fair at all…

29 Design Build July 22, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Thanks a lot for the post, now people with disabilities have equal access to remote work opportunities. Everyone should be treated fairly, able or disabled, if managers expect production to increase. Once again, thanks a lot !!

30 Design Build July 31, 2014 at 6:23 am

Thanks a lot for the post, now people with disabilities have equal access to remote work opportunities.Everyone should be treated as fairly, able or disabled, if managers expect production to increase. Once again, thanks a lot !!

31 Agus Bloggers August 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm

One unspoken problem with some companies hiring “disabled” people has to do with lawyers. Any company that hires people with certain types of disabilities can place themselves at legal risk. The government needs to address litigation problems.. [link removed]

32 yacon syrup August 4, 2014 at 11:03 pm

In reality, disabled people are treated as a limited option. That’s why most of them are lacking self-confidence. But the truth is many of them can actually do better than the able ones. I think the key here is to help them build their self-confidence and let them prove themselves.

Thanks for this wonderful post.

33 TuWeBB August 5, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Excellent motivational post. People need something like this.
Thank you!

34 edson August 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

all have the same rights we must accept disabled people in different positions. Thus there would be a world with more social inculison.

35 Sandy August 13, 2014 at 6:15 am

Remote working is a godsend for those who need it. It also allows employers to choose people who are perfectly capable, but otherwise could not make it into the workplace.

36 Cathy August 20, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I think it still has a long way to go. In our side, we can see that people with disabilities everywhere their outstanding work

37 harga ac August 22, 2014 at 3:05 am

agree with u..disabilities should have equality in their work.maybe disablities peple worked more harder and have more quality than normal people do..just give them a chance!

38 alex August 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Great articles thanks for sharing

39 Leandro - como limpiar el colon August 26, 2014 at 8:03 am

One unspoken problem with some companies hiring “disabled” people has to do with lawyers. Any company that hires people with certain types of disabilities can place themselves at legal risk.

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