Goodwill Celebrates Disability Inclusion in Workplace

Diversity

BY BOB ROSINSKY SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY SEP 30, 2017

Reflecting on the important role that diversity and inclusion play in workforce success, Goodwill Manasota is proud to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Observed annually in October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. The theme for this year’s NDEAM is "Inclusion Drives Innovation."

NDEAM’s origins date back to 1945 when Congress declared the first week of October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The name was changed in 1962 by omitting the word “physically” to acknowledge workers with all types of disabilities. The period of recognition was extended to a full month and the name changed to its current iteration in 1988.

Despite advocacy and awareness efforts across the country through the years, individuals with disabilities are at a significant disadvantage in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities have a much higher unemployment rate than the general population, are more likely to work part-time than full when compared to their counterparts, and are more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. 

Goodwill Industries has worked for 115 years to support job seekers with disabilities and barriers to employment through training, job placement, and employment. Locally, Goodwill Manasota offers the Supported JobsPlus program. Implemented in 2005, the SJP program targets sustainable employment for those with significant disabilities. Nearly 25 percent of our employees have some type of self-identified disability; while nearly 11 percent of our employees have significant disabilities and participate in our SJP program. All Goodwill employees, including SJP participants, are paid minimum wage or higher.

Numerous studies have shown that hiring qualified individuals with disabilities offers significant opportunities for employers to access new markets, increase retention, and improve productivity through finding innovative and effective ways of doing business. According to The Chicago Lighthouse, individuals with disabilities are reliable and have an overall higher job retention rate, are less likely to get into work-related accidents, and increase diversity in the workplace; additionally, businesses that hire people with disabilities may also receive tax credits or other incentives. 

We believe that by helping all workers achieve their full potential—through education, specialized skills training and the pride that is gained through employment—we are able to build stronger communities. We look forward to a day when all Americans with disabilities who have a desire to achieve self-sufficiency will have equal access to jobs and the opportunity to make important contributions to the workplace and their communities.

Bob Rosinsky is the president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota.

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