Embracing Employees with Disabilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released in July reaffirmed that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have a disability.   A disability is a condition that limits one’s physical or mental abilities.  It may be visible or not, be from birth or come about later in life.

As our workforces continue to age, they will develop new disabilities.   The longer we work the greater likelihood we will develop a chronic illness and incur injuries.   It won’t be long before more than 20% of your staff will have a disability.

Wise employers will want to attract, retain and embrace staff members with disabilities who are highly qualified to perform jobs, with or without accommodation.    Businesses who are Federal Contractors began being required in 2014 to start tracking their number of employees with disabilities and establish specific action-oriented programs to get to a 7% utilization goal for each of their job groups or their entire workforce if the business has 100 or fewer employees.   All businesses want to find the best talent and often it means recruiting and developing a person who happens to have a disability.  Where can businesses turn to in your community for advice and to build out your company’s disability-friendly culture?

The Indiana Business Leadership Network (IN BLN) is driving success through disability inclusion.   As an affiliate of the U.S. Business Leadership Network, IN BLN is a business led not for profit that supports its 7 Indiana Chapters in the mission of helping businesses drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace.  Since 2002, BLN Chapters in Indiana have provided training for local employers, sponsored events related to disability employment, worked with employers to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and encouraged diversification of supply chains through awareness campaigns.

Today, the IN BLN Steering Committee has representation from a variety of leading businesses including  Indiana University, Ernst & Young, Anthem, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Direct Employers and others.  The 6 local active Chapters are in:

  • Cass County
  • South Central (Monroe, Owen, Lawrence, Brown and Morgan Counties)
  • Howard County
  • Michiana (St. Joseph County)
  • Wabash Valley
  • Kosciusko

And a relaunch is underway in Indianapolis/Marion County

Chapters are comprised of local businesses and disability support partner groups who collaborate on a variety of initiatives such as campaigns to get employees with disabilities to self-identify, educational workshops led by experts in disability employment or related topics, opportunities for networking, and events that recognize employers who are champions of hiring, and utilizing employees in their workforce.

To get engaged, visit the IN BLN website at http://inbln.org/.   The Indianapolis Chapter is undergoing a revitalization effort and volunteer leadership opportunities exist.    If you have any questions or wish to discuss your interest in getting your business involved, please contact me at 317.620.1204.

Make your workplace one that welcomes and celebrates talent with disabilities!

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