The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities continues to remain around 80%. As many organizations, advocates and employment specialists work to change this percentage, another big advocate needed to change this statistic are businesses. There are many employers that have hired individuals with disabilities and we need their support in making sure ALL businesses hire inclusively.
One way to support inclusive businesses in this effort is to put on an Inclusive Employer and Employee Panel. This event allows other businesses to hear from current business owners on how they changed their hiring practices, customized jobs and provided necessary accommodations to include people with disabilities in their workplace. Inclusive Networking, a Customized Employment consulting company partnered with inclusive employers, Allianz, Isadore Nut Company and Humble Nut Butter in their first event. The event was a huge success and allowed for employers and employees to share their stories, experiences and network with others that either were looking for a job or looking for their company to be more inclusive to hiring people with disabilities.
Our second event was hosted by Allianz and ended up being a virtual event due to COVID-19. Being virtual we were nervous it would not be the same as our first event. Nevertheless, we pursued our agenda and changed the panelist sharing their experiences to a prerecorded video and had a live Q&A. The aftermath was incredible. We received great feedback, had more attendees than our first event and many businesses reached out after the event to learn more. Our field needs to continue to give inclusive employers the platform to raise awareness to other business owners, continue to educate others about Employment First policies and advocate for people with disabilities to be included in the workforce. Business leaders have a strong voice and network of their own. Employment specialists can only reach so many people. Business owners need to be a part of this change and support job seekers with disabilities to thrive in the careers that match their interests, skills and passions. It is time that businesses help lead the way to a more inclusive workforce.