Fair Treatment for Employees With Disabilities

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 There have been numerous laws and organizations created to fight for the rights of disabled workers. The Americans with Disabilities Act, protections from the Human Rights Commission, as well as proactive business leaders who appreciate and understand the value a company gains by looking past a persons’ disability have helped bring awareness to gaining fair treatment for diabled employees. Today, companies are recognized and awarded for their commitment to workplace diversity and the inclusion of disabled persons. When business leaders share their best practice stories and experiences with disabled persons in their workplace, it becomes evident that progress is being made.

Company Experiences

In a previous post “Think Beyond the Label”, we introduced readers to the organization “Think Beyond the Label”, which works to promote the hiring of individuals with disabilities. One of the sections I really eHampton Roadsoy reading on their website is the company success stories, where business leaders discuss the positive impact hiring persons with disabilities has had within their organization. DiversityInc. Magazine annually publishes “The DiversityInc. Top 50 List,” recognizing 50 companies for their commitment to hiring persons with disabilities.

Here are some examples of companies demonstrating best practices through the hiring of persons with disabilities:

Holiday Inn Express- Ft. Pierre, South Dakota

In an interview with Think Beyond the Label, Dawn Nagel, the manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Ft.Pierre discussed the positive impact that hiring employees with disabilities has had within her workplace. Approximately 30% of employees at the Holiday Inn Express in Ft. Pierre have a disability. In the article “Featured Success: Holiday Inn Express,” Nagel stated:

“An employee with a disability is often times a more productive and loyal employee than a person who does not have a disability; she feels that spending a little extra time with them in the beginning of their employment makes the difference. They are treated just like any other employee. Dawn emphatically said, ‘There are no labels here’.”

In the same article, Nagel also discusses her commitment to developing a better understanding of the disabilities faced by her employees and setting a good example. After reading Nagel’s story, it became evident that she focuses on the ability of the individual to fit in with the company’s culture, refraining from defining a person based on the label society has unfortunately provided them with.

Johnson and Johnson

“Our Credo” by Johnson and Johnson sets the tone for diversity and inclusion within the company. In March 2010, Johnson and Johnson was ranked #2 on the “The DiversityInc. Top 50 List,” for demonstrating a continued commitment to workplace diversity. Executives at Johnson and Johnson feel that making a commitment to inclusion and diversity helps the company develop products better suited to the needs of the end consumer. Through understanding the needs and challenges of their own employees, Johnson and Johnson has applied this knowledge to product development, helping maintain their position as an industry leader. This element is explained below, from a statement published on the Johnson and Johnson Corporate website:

“We recognize that differences in age, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability, thinking style and background bring richness to our work environments. Such differences help us connect better with the health needs of people in communities around the world. We believe that attracting, developing and retaining a base of employees that reflects the diversity of our customers is essential to our success.”

Ford Motor Company

Inclusion and the presence of employees with disabilities isn’t new at Ford Motor Company. While reading about the history of the people at Ford on their corporate website, I came across this statement, which discusses the company’s roots in hiring persons with disabilities:

“Even before World War II, Ford Motor Company was known as one that was more interested in a prospective employee’s abilities than any disabilities the person might have. In 1937, an article in Ford News reported that the company had ‘11,632 men in various stages of disability earning full pay,’ and the article made a point of saying that ‘they give full value for their wages.’ The company’s leadership in the employment of persons with disabilities continued through the years. In the 1970s, Henry Ford II was a founding member of the National Business and Disability Council, long before the U.S. government enacted laws requiring equal opportunity for persons with disabilities.”

Ford Employees Dealing with disAbilities (FEDA) is a network group designed for Ford employees living with disabilities. FEDA focuses on inclusion and diversity at Ford, helping employees maximize their contributions to the workplace and eliminate social barriers encountered by employees working with disabilities. At Ford, employees with disabilities help the company better understand the challenges faced by persons with disabilities when it comes to selecting a vehicle. Ford Mobility Motoring designs vehicles for persons with mobility issues who require vehicle modifications in order to drive. Ford identified workplace tasks that could be completed by those with disabilities, opening up opportunities for increased workplace diversity.

Ernst & Young

AccessAbilities is a resource network at Ernst & Young, raising workplace awareness about employees with disabilities.  The group discusses ways in which the firm can better support these employees and is comprised of both employees with and without disabilities. As a matter of fact, about two-thirds of AccessAbilities members do not have disabilities themselves. AccessAbilities members meet monthly via conference call and have Abilities Champions who make sure disabilities-awareness messages and educational material are part of communications, meetings and events

In the SHRM article “Do You Need an Employee Resource Group for People with Disabilities?” Lori Golden, AccessAbilities Leader at Ernst & Young states that:

“Ernst & Young’s goal is to identify and accommodate any needs its people have, not to identify the reason they have those needs. We want to know what we can do day-to-day to keep our people more productive and safe. We also ask people in any new situation– such as when they are scheduled to go out to engagements at clients– if they need any accommodation so we can work with clients from the get go to ensure the right accommodations are in place.”

These are just a few of the examples of companies executing best practices when it comes to employees with disabilities. There are many more companies out there striving to achieve similar goals, helping to reduce workplace barriers one step at a time.

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