The lyrics from Queens We Are The Champions took on new meaning at the October 1, 2018 Northeast Indiana Human Resources Association (NIHRA) monthly meeting on inclusive employment. More than 150 human resource professionals heard this call to action:
Will you be the champion in your company to start the conversation about hiring individuals with disabilities?
A panel discussion involving Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., Scherer Resources, Partners in Autism and a recent graduate from Ball State University who has a disability challenged the group to be intentional in expanding hiring practices that included disability. Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. added a disability employment coordinator to begin the dialogue with its member organizations. Scherer Resources launched a training program on understanding disability and the business culture necessary to embrace and support inclusive employment. Partners in Autism has an employment training program and builds relationships with employers to hire individuals with autism. College graduates with disabilities are well-qualified with bachelor and master degrees in public service, library science, computer technology, and marketing and communication yet when the disability is disclosed an interview rarely occurs.
What can you do to champion inclusive employment in your organization? Start by asking who knows someone with a disability. You might be surprised how many people do. Then ask about their employment status. You might be surprised by those answers: I dont know or never thought about it. Expand the conversation and questions to your professional network, vendors and contractors. More surprises?
As you read this, will you answer the call to action? Will you be the champion?