Students with disabilities take twice as long to secure a job after graduation, and with new federal regulations setting workforce disability hiring goals employers are actively seeking more graduates with disabilities. Often, however, employers have not been successful identifying students with disabilities and building a pipeline of talent. This is not due to a lack of qualified candidates, but rather a lack of access to students with disabilities.
At many institutions of higher education, the career services office, which assists students in preparing for and obtaining internships and employment and are the first line of contact for employers, lack a strong—or any—connection to the office of disabled student services, which ensures proper accessibility and accommodations on campus for students with disabilities. This disconnect leaves a gap, both for employers seeking to diversify their workforce and for students with disabilities who are not gaining access to the same services and opportunities as their peers without disabilities.
This paper will explore the problem of campus employment services for students with disabilities and the impact OFCCP guidelines will have on employers, colleges, universities and students with disabilities. As well, it will offer a case study example and recommendations as to what university disability offices, career services offices and employers can do to address this issue.
- Let’s Make Compliance the Floor, Not the Ceiling
Op-ed by Randy Lewis, Former SVP at Walgreens’, accidental disability-advocate and featured speaker at NOD’s CEO Council form “Moving Beyond Compliance”
Way up on the 57th floor of Chase Tower, a group of people came together in Chicago last week who are literally changing the lives of so many Americans living with disabilities. This is an historic moment when our nation can at long last begin to harvest the talents of Americans with disabilities and, in the process, help them enjoy full opportunity for employment and earnings. For those in the workforce, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities in the U.S. is nearly twice the national unemployment rate. It’s a pervasive problem that still exists nearly a quarter century after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. But you can feel the tide starting to turn.
The National Organization on Disability (NOD), which has been doing great work to help companies close that employment gap, hosted a forum in partnership with Exelon, one of Chicago’s leading employers engaged with this issue. There is now building in corporate America today a new energy and commitment toward workplaces that include people with disabilities with all other diversity segments. Workplaces where people with disabilities are considered for what they can do, not what they can’t. Where employees with disabilities are performing equal tasks and earning equal pay. I had the privilege of leading such a process at Walgreens and shared my experiences with the group assembled this week atop Chase Tower. More on my Walgreens experience in a moment.
One reason this is such a remarkable time is the recent shift in public policy out of Washington. This year, the U.S. Labor Department adopted a rule change that, for the first time, sets a seven-percent hiring goal for people with disabilities if you are a contractor that does business with the federal government. Many companies are working to comply right now, and I know some here in the Midwest have raised concerns. That’s why I’m delighted Patricia Shiu, the point person at DOL who spearheaded the rule change, was able to travel from D.C. to Chicago for this forum. Her office has worked hard to listen to employers to make the transition smoother. My message to corporate America is a simple one: Don’t do it because you have to, do it because it will make your company better.
- US Department of Labor News Brief: Workforce Inclusion Forum
More than 120 business leaders and community advocates attended a symposium on disability employment hosted by the National Organization on Disability and Exelon in Chicago on Sept. 10.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu discussed the agency’s rule establishing a 7 percent employment goal for people with disabilities by federal contractors and subcontractors. “The experience of companies has overwhelmingly been that these hires are a source of loyal, hard-working talent that boosts corporate productivity,” Shiu said.
Retired Walgreens executive Randy Lewis described efforts that led to 10 percent of the company’s workforce consisting of individuals with disabilities. “Don’t hire people with disabilities because you have to, do it because it will make your company better,” he said.
- NOD Chairman Gov. Tom Ridge Delivers Keynote Remarks at Pennsylvania Disability Employment Summit
NOD Chairman and former state governor Tom Ridge delivered keynote remarks at the the third-annual Pennsylvania Disability Employment Summit (PADES). The summit brings together business leaders, advocates, providers and persons with disabilities to discuss the importance of helping individuals with disabilities gain employment and achieve independence.
Widely covered by press outlets throughout Pennsylvania, the three-day event featured a Secretaries’ Roundtable with cabinet officials discussing how agencies help provide services that assist individuals with disabilities, information on tax incentives and free training available to employers; updates on transportation for Pennsylvanians with disabilities; and a job fair where businesses can recruit and interview qualified candidates on the spot.
- Revisiting the Pain of Mental Illness in America: What Can We Learn From Robin Williams’ Suicide?
Huffington Post Blog by NOD President Carol Glazer
As an actor, comic and humanitarian, Robin Williams touched millions of lives. His untimely death by suicide linked to serious depression has deprived all of us of years more of his extraordinary gifts. More importantly, his family lost a husband and father. The media has been abuzz about the profound pain wrought by depression on its victims and their families. But before we move on to the next important news story, let’s first tally up what Robin Williams’ death tells us about the stigmatization of mental illness and the cost of investing in its early detection and treatment vs. the cost of not doing so.
Throughout history, as a society we’ve treated mental illness in short bursts, separated by large periods of benign or active neglect. From the purges and bloodletting in the Middle Ages, to later “madhouses” that housed inhabitants in cages, to reforms creating more humane state hospitals in the late 1800s, public policy has come full circle. In the 1960s we learned that state institutions were no better than incarceration of previous centuries. That recognition led to deinstitutionalization in the mid-1960s, codified by President Kennedy’s funding for treatment facilities through the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. (President Kennedy’s sister Rosemary had famously undergone a lobotomy, which left her inert and unable to speak more than a few words).
But while the number of institutionalized mentally ill people in the United States dropped from a peak of 560,000 to just over 130,000 in 1980, only half of the proposed community mental health centers intended to support individuals who transitioned back to communities were ever built, and many of those that remained were dismantled in the 1970s and ‘80s due to lack of funding. Sadly, the promise of deinstitutionalization—helping vast numbers of people with mental health disabilities lead normal and productive lives through treatment in their communities—was never fulfilled.
- Let’s Fill the Disability Gap
Bobby Sturgell, SVP Washington Operations, Rockwell Collins and NOD Director
Before you hire your next employee, I challenge you to consider someone with a disability. The benefits that a person with a disability brings can be significant. Research studies dating back to 1948 have consistently shown that employees with disabilities have average or better attendance, job performance, and safety records than their non-disabled counterparts, as well as a lower turnover rate.
Reportedly, there are 56 million people with disabilities living in the U.S., and approximately 33 million of them are of working age. The labor force participation rate of this group is 21 percent, which is much lower than the participation rate of those working without disabilities—approximately 70 percent.
We recognize the value that persons with disabilities bring, especially veterans that served our country. Being in the defense industry, the skills that disabled veterans bring are a natural fit. Their battle experience using our technology can produce strong customer affinity.
US Business Leadership Network National Conference
Monday, September 29, 2014 - Thursday, October 2, 2014
LIVE STREAM: Kick Off National Disability Employment Awareness Month at the RIT Career Fair
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
RADIO INTERVIEW: Carol Glazer and Alan Muir of COSD Kick of Disability Employment Awareness Month
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Disability Employment Summit
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
National Rehabilitation Association Annual Training Conference
Thursday, October 30, 2014
- America’s Colleges And Universities Must Bridge Employment Gap for Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities take twice as long to secure a job after graduation; New federal regulations mean employers will need more graduates with disabilities
October 1, 2014, Rochester, NY – National Organization on Disability (NOD) President Carol Glazer says if colleges and universities cannot provide a pipeline of graduates with disabilities companies seeking to satisfy new federal disability employment targets are not likely to succeed. In order to satisfy this need and find a solution to the stubborn disability employment gap, Glazer called on America’s institutions of higher education to find a new model to connect students and recent graduates with disabilities to careers. Glazer’s comments came at a news conference at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which is being recognized in a new NOD white paper released today as an example of a university that has successfully bridged that employment gap for its students.
Also attending today’s event – which served as a kick-off to National Disability Employment Awareness Month – were Marilyn Mackes, executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE); Alan Muir, executive director of Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD); RIT President Bill Destler; RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf President Dr. Gerry Buckley; NTID alumnus Jamie Munro; and Kimberly Demko, a recruiting manager at General Electric, one of the employers attending RIT’s Fall Career Fair.
“The message we hear repeatedly from corporate America is that while colleges and universities are doing many things well, most fall short in building a pipeline of talent with disabilities,” said Glazer. “Their inability to hire new graduates is not due to a lack of qualified candidates, but rather a lack of access. If our higher education community can bridge this gap by effectively addressing the disconnect between campus disability services and career services offices, they will help to dramatically improve employment opportunities for students with disabilities, while also assisting federal contractors in complying with new U.S. Labor Department regulations. If they cannot, I fear we will have wasted an historic opportunity to put hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities into jobs.”
- Employers Meet with DOL Leader to Discuss New Hiring Targets for People with Disabilities
“Moving Beyond Compliance” Symposium Hosted by Exelon and National Organization on Disability at Chase Tower
Sept. 10, 2014, Chicago, IL – U.S. businesses that contract with the federal government are preparing for a new seven-percent employment goal for people with disabilities. President Obama’s point person at the U.S. Labor Department tasked with spearheading that effort traveled to Chicago today to speak with area human resources and Diversity & Inclusion executives at a symposium hosted by energy company Exelon and the National Organization on Disability (NOD). Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, was joined on today’s panel by Randy Lewis, the former Senior Vice President at Walgreens, a large employer with headquarters in Chicago that successfully created thousands of jobs for people with disabilities.
- New Opportunity for Employers to Assess Readiness to Hire People with Disabilities Now Available
Disability Employment Tracker™ 2014 Offers Exciting New Benchmarking Opportunities and will be a Significant Factor in Determining the DiversityInc ‘Top 10 Companies for Employees with Disabilities’ Annual Survey
Sept. 10, 2014, Chicago, IL - National Organization on Disability (NOD) today unveiled the next iteration of the popular Disability Employment Tracker™, a corporate self-assessment tool developed in partnership with the National Business and Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center and Sirota. The Tracker allows companies to confidentially assess their own disability and/or veteran employment practices, benchmark their efforts against their peers, and use the results to educate internal stakeholders on successes and opportunities.
New this year is a partnership with DiversityInc, the nation’s leading “diversity” publication. Starting with the April 2015 awards, DiversityInc will consider whether a company has completed the Disability Employment Tracker™ as a significant factor when determining their Top 10 Companies for Employees with Disabilities.