Workplace Initiative weekly news roundup: December 2, 2019

Here are some highlights from this week’s news about disability inclusion (DI) in the workforce — and how you can use this information to make your company the best it can be.

1. When “Try harder” really means “Be more like us”

What’s reported: This Forbes article written by an organizational psychologist takes a hard look at ableism in the workplace. The author argues that some employers see neurodiversity traits as moral character deficits. “People tend to assume that these differences are choices and can be changed through therapy or hard work,” writes Nancy Doyle, PhD.

Why can’t you tell a person with ADHD to sit still? Or tell a person with autism to look you in the eye? “It is no different than telling someone with a hearing impairment to listen up, or someone with a mobility issue to walk faster, or a person of color to get their hair relaxed,” Doyle writes. 

What it means for you: “Workplace accommodations aren’t about changing the person to fit the environment,” explains Doyle. “It’s about changing the environment and activities to fit the person. Asking us to learn to be more like you isn’t just doomed to failure, it’s actually discrimination.” 

Your company can benefit from the strengths and talents of people with disabilities. Learn how to create a successful disability inclusion program with Understood.

2. Disability employment rates differ wildly from state to state

What’s reported: Why do more than half of North Dakotans with disabilities have jobs while the same is true for only 26 percent of West Virginians? Indiana’s Herald Republican digs into the employment data in the 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

The report is based on census data and was published earlier this year by the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. The Herald Republican spotlights Indiana, which ranks 24th in the nation with 38.6 percent of people with disabilities employed. 

The article also notes different ways states are trying to improve disability employment rates, such as:

  • Allocating state funding for accommodations for employees with disabilities
  • Adding training for human resources managers on recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities
  • Having job tryouts for people with disabilities so employee and employer can see if a job is a good fit for both

What it means for you: State policy matters. But there are lots of things your company can do to expand its talent pool. Learn about common myths about hiring people with disabilities — and get the facts on how disability inclusion can give you a competitive edge.

3. How foundations can lead the way on disability inclusion 

What’s reported: In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Open Society Foundations staffers write about how their organization made efforts to support young political activists with disabilities. This resulted in awarding Community Youth Fellowships to two people with autism. 

The organization, which is focused on democracy and human rights, made their grant-making process more accessible for people with disabilities. Applicants were allowed to submit their proposals via video or audio — not just in writing. “We came to understand that many applicants with relevant skills and abilities had no experience with our way of presenting proposals,” the staffers write.

What it means for you: Disability inclusion “is about recognizing and valuing — and growing, as an organization, to include — the very distinctive skills, perspectives, and experiences that disabled people bring,” the article points out. Learn how to adopt new disability inclusion strategies through Understood’s Inclusive Careers Cohort (ICC) program.

4. Seattle’s King County bans the county and its contractors from paying below minimum wage

What’s reported: Federal law allows employers to pay subminimum wages to workers with disabilities. But the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that King County is joining a growing list of jurisdictions that have banned or restricted this practice. “Paying someone less because they have a disability reinforces negative stereotypes,” says the councilmember who sponsored the ban. “In King County we value everyone equally and want our policies to reflect that.”

What it means for you: Hiring people with disabilities isn’t charity. It’s good for business. Learn how disability inclusion can lower employee turnover and increase profitability.

About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.