In recognition of October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Fort Huachuca Equal Employment Opportunity Office promotes recruiting, hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities as part of sustaining a diverse workforce.
A diverse workforce goes beyond a mission statement or core values of an organization. Diversity in the workplace utilizes individuals’ various skills and abilities which contributes to the overall mission of the organization and supports the 2013 awareness month theme of “Because we are equal to the task.”
Diversity comprises many characteristics of individuals in the workplace. Leveraging diversity in the Army allows leadership and management to seek out and understand the many dimensions of diversity.
In order to capitalize on diversity, the organizational culture must be welcoming to all employees, including those with apparent and non apparent disabilities. It is important to appreciate and value differences.
According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled; about 12 percent of the total population.
Unfortunately, the rate and level of employment for people with disabilities is astoundingly low.
Labor force participation is 22 percent for people with disabilities as compared to 69 percent for people without disabilities. Americans with disabilities continue to be employed at a rate far below Americans without disabilities, and they have very low participation rates in the federal workforce.
Research indicates attitudinal barriers are major barriers for individuals with disabilities in the work place. The individual with a disability may experience numerous challenges by a co-worker, manager or leader within the agency that could be the result of misunderstanding, confusion, ignoring the disability, using the disability to dismiss the person, or making unfair comparisons about the person’s work performance. Other pitfalls include using incorrect terminology when referring to the person’s disability or making inappropriate jokes. Education is the key to reducing stigmas associated with individuals with disabilities.
It is important to point out that of all the main demographic groups, many think of sex, race, color… but disability is a category anyone may join at anytime.