The Employer Spotlight describes employers' successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities.
As employers increase their outreach to job candidates and employees with disabilities as well as wounded and injured Veterans, a critical element is workforce and workplace education. When an employer commits to creating a "disability friendly" workplace, dispelling misinformation and stereotypes is accomplished through education and raised awareness.
Northrop Grumman - Electronic Systems Sector, working with a consultant and expert in the field of disability education, developed the "Disability Etiquette and Awareness" module. The module is a two hour workshop, offered to managers and employees throughout the sector. It is a live training workshop, led by an instructor and intended to be interactive with the attendees.
The module is presented in three interlinked segments: Information, Cultural Awareness and Application. The Information portion consists of an interactive quiz related to disability statistics, information about the ADA, and the impact of the subsequent ADA Amendments Act. The Cultural Awareness portion addresses basic protocol when interacting with co-workers and job candidates with disabilities, reasonable accommodations, and specific types of disabilities. This section includes parents of special needs children, confidentiality and service animals. The Application portion uses news vignettes and internally developed videos that address myths and stereotypes affecting people with disabilities. The module ends with an update of the initiatives and partner organizations that Northrop Grumman adopted and embraced.
The challenges facing the disability community are misinformation, myths and stereotypes. Society and individuals too often view this community through their own misperceptions about disabilities. People often fear saying or doing the wrong thing when interacting with a person with a disability. It becomes easier to avoid them than getting to know them. Through information and basic protocol, the intent is see the person first, not the disability.
The goal is to raise the comfort level which leads to inclusion and a higher level of interaction. A simple but impactful question posed to the class is, "please raise your hand if you have a friend or family member with a disability." Invariably, one out of three raises his or her hand. We then ask, "do you treat them any differently than you do other friends and family members?" Of course they don't and they let us know it. We then pose the question, "then why do we treat those we don't know differently?"
This initiative is approached from the perspective of diversity and inclusion. Disability knows no gender and includes all ethnicities, races, religions or place of origin.