Helping Employers Understand What They CAN Do to Foster a Disability-Inclusive Workplace

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EARN-Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion - Advancing Workforce DiversityHelping Employers Understand What They CAN Do to Foster a Disability-Inclusive Workplace
By the EARN Team

At the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), we wholeheartedly agree with the Campaign for Disability Employment’s (CDE) core message that “at work, it’s what people CAN do that matters.” We also understand that when it comes to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, what employers CAN do also matters, a lot.

That’s because employers provide the opportunities. By fostering flexible work environments welcoming of the skills and talents of all qualified individuals, including people with disabilities, employers are a critical factor in the disability inclusion equation.

That’s where EARN comes in. Through a variety of activities, we aim to increase employers’ capacity to recruit, hire, retain, and advance qualified people with disabilities. Like the CDE, we are a service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

The foundation of our work is Inclusion@Work, an employer policy framework developed in collaboration with ODEP and a range of employers with exemplary track records in disability employment. This framework outlines seven core components of a disability-inclusive workplace, along with a menu of strategies for achieving them.

EARN also recently launched the Dinah Cohen Training Center for Disability Employment and Inclusion, an online repository that offers a wide range of tools and turn-key presentations that employers can use to implement virtual or live disability inclusion training in their workplaces. It is named in honor of Dinah Cohen, a former EARN trainer and long-time leader in the disability employment arena who passed away last year. The Training Center also includes a section with videos and webinars on the seven components of Inclusion@Work.

For employers just starting out on their disability inclusion journey, we offer a Primer on Disability Inclusion, which we recently updated to include new research and resources on the topic. We also have a webpage dedicated to Employer Financial Incentives, including tax credits and deductions, that can help employers effectively hire and retain people with disabilities. Those who want to learn more about particular topics can benefit from resources such as our Mental Health Toolkit, which presents an easy-to-follow employer framework for fostering a mental health-friendly workplace, or our Neurodiversity in the Workplace webpage, which explains neurodiversity in the workplace context and various autism hiring initiatives implemented by a range of companies. These are just a few examples of topics addressed on our website, AskEARN.org.

In addition to our online resources, we host free webinars to educate business owners, human resources professionals, diversity and inclusion professionals, and others on strategies for building disability-inclusive workplace cultures and effectively recruiting and retaining people with disabilities. We also work closely with business intermediary organizations to educate their members about what they can do to foster a disability-inclusive work culture, delivering live and online customized workshops on a variety of topics.

In short, we engage with employers in multiple ways, because there are multiple ways employers can foster a disability-inclusive workplace. And in the end, that’s what matters most.

About the Author

This post was authored by members of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) team.

At work, it’s what people CAN do that matters

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