Article

DBP Members Celebrate NDEAM 2021

By Deanna Keenan
October 4, 2021

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM has been held since 1988, when Congress declared October as a month to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of people with disabilities. This month is hosted yearly by the U.S. Department of Labor and is given a theme. This year’s theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.” This theme highlights the disparities experienced throughout the pandemic by this group of people. It calls communities and employers to action to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the pandemic.

Ways in which companies can support NDEAM, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Labor, include:

  • Download or order the official 2021 NDEAM poster and create a display (or Slack channel!) to encourage employees to engage with the company’s commitment to an inclusive work environment and learn about other people’s experiences.
  • Review policies to ensure they demonstrate a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture.
  • Launch an employees with disabilities employee resource group (ERG), to offer opportunities for employees to connect, engage, and learn about people with similar and different backgrounds.
  • Host refresher trainings with managers and employees to review relevant policies and learn through informal educational events such as lunch and learns.
  • Create an easily accessible resource bank that can facilitate activities to learn, such as disability etiquette materials and the “I Can” public service announcement.
  • Offer the time for employees to participate in Disability Mentoring Day, which promotes career development for youth with disabilities. This event is held on the third Wednesday of each October, but companies have the option to host their own events on any day of the month (or throughout the year!).

Below, please see what some Diversity Best Practices members are doing to support NDEAM this year:


Abbott

Abbott, led by our Abbott disABILITY Employee Network, will recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month with the following activities:

  • Mental Health Webinar for Employees in partnership with our EAP provider.
  • Virtual event, featuring J.J. O’Connor, chair of USA Hockey’s Disabled section, as keynote speaker, to discuss recognizing personal space, providing assistance and education on disability.
  • Communication campaign (through webinars, lunch-n-learns and email communications): Tips and tricks for more accessible internal communication

Abbott employees are also invited to participate in the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio in the Columbus Buddy Walk®.

The Abbott disABILITY Network promotes an atmosphere where individuals are comfortable discussing and exploring questions about accessibility, equality, and inclusion for people with disabilities. This employee network is dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to reach their full potential. The network exists to create a culture of understanding, awareness, advancement and advocacy through education, training, outreach, volunteering and collaboration.


Guidewell

To support NDEAM this month, Guidewell’s PossAbilities Community is hosting weekly lunch and learns during the month. The topics for discussion each week are:

Week 1: Our Company’s Commitment to Supporting People with Disabilities

Week 2: Reasonable Accommodation Process

Week 3: Visible and Invisible Disabilities

Week 4: Self-Identification of Disability

Guidewell is also supporting the company’s community partner Thrive at UNF by attending a lunch and learn they are doing on October 13 to review the accommodation and interview process here at GuideWell.


Cigna

Cigna is extremely proud to be recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” for the seventh year in a row after receiving a score of 100 on Disability:IN’s 2021 Disability Equality Index. The company says: “We strive to continually enhance our efforts in creating an accessible and inclusive workplace, and foster a culture that respects and celebrates employees of all abilities.” Throughout the month of October, the Achieving Better Lives for Everyone (ABLE) ERG will be sharing blogs, articles, film and book recommendations, and live virtual events offering education, awareness, and connection as we celebrate NDEAM.

Our ABLE ERG has numerous events going on throughout the month:

  • A kickoff event with our Executive Sponsor and HR Sponsor.
  • A session on mental health and mental health first aid training.
  • A session on neurodiversity and ADHD.
  • A panel discussion on the documentary “Crip Camp”.
  • Throughout the month, Cigna will be highlighting ERG members in “I am…” blogs.

Cigna is selling “I am… ABLE” T-shirts throughout the month and for every t-shirt purchased, the ABLE ERG will donate $5 to an organization voted on by employees.

Cigna will also be recognizing NDEAM through employee spotlights on the company’s social media channels.


Citrix

Citrix will be supporting National Disability Employee Awareness Month with a Daring Dialogue on Disability Etiquette tied to a Self-ID Campaign. The company will also be highlighting their partnership with Disability:IN and their recent score of 100 on the organization’s Disability Equality Index through their social media platforms.


Experian

Experian says it is “proud to celebrate and recognize NDEAM, and the impact of the company’s differently abled colleagues. They make Experian a better organization and truly help create a better tomorrow.”

The ASPIRE Employee Resource Group is partnering with our DEI team to sponsor activities that support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This will be Experian’s first year celebrating NDEAM, which is underpinned by the company’s Disability Strategy efforts. For employees, Experian is hosting an internal Global Hackathon Panel focusing on digital accessibility. An Experian executive will moderate a pre-event panel, which will include special guests from the National Disability Institute and Disability:IN, intended to inspire participants to develop innovative solutions that foster digital accessibility in the company’s consumer-facing products and services. Throughout the week-long event, employees work cross-functionally on products and services that speak to the event theme, and the winning solution is awarded funds to further explore its market potential.

The company will also share an external Experian News Blog Post highlighting Experian as a best place to work for people with disabilities. This will be accessible in October on the website here. Additionally, Experian is participating in Disability:IN’s, Inclusion Works Virtual Corporate Internship Showcase. This event is tailored to recruit college students with disabilities through their Inclusion Works initiative. Lastly, Experian is also encouraging our employees to attend any events that our diversity, equity, and inclusion partners are hosting for NDEAM which include:

  • October 13: Disability:IN webinare Supplier Diversity and its Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance Impact
  • October 14: Mental Health in the Workplace
  • October 28: Diversity Best Practices’ National Disability Education Awareness Month Event

Experian will be raising awareness for NDEAM and celebrating its importance on the company’s social media platforms throughout October.


Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac’sAbilities Business Resource Group (BRG) will commemorate the month with programming that enhances the inclusion of the community of employees with physical/invisible disabilities. Highlights include:

  • An Understanding Home Ergonomics and ADA Accommodations event with a Freddie Mac HR expert.
  • A virtual dialogue about creating an inclusive culture through storytelling to connect, inspire and compel people to discover what’s “Hidden in Plain View.”
  • A lunch and learn about new, existing and emerging Freddie Mac offerings and housing products for individuals with disabilities.

Check out Freddie Mac’s social media pages searching the hashtag #inclusionatFreddieMac for more information!


Retail Business Services

Retail Business Services will launch support for NDEAM through kickoff messaging from the company’s BRG chair and by distributing a list of books about various disabilities to associates to read to their children. The company will also host a panel discussion featuring associates speaking about living with their disabilities as well as hold a webinar with a psychologist on the importance and challenges of mental health.


Sodexo

NDEAM commemorates the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces, society, and economy. This year Sodexo’s theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion” which reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sodexo will offer a variety of disability programming for NDEAM starting with a webinar for World Mental Health Day on October 7, raising awareness of mental health in the workplace. This will feature Disability:IN’s Executive VP of Programs, Liz Taub. She will share her mental health diagnosis and journey and discuss mental health allyship and share resources. The webinar will be broadcasted in English and real time AI-computer translated captions will be available for Spanish, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, and English. This event is co-hosted by Disabilities Voice Global and SOAR EBRG (Disabilities). SOAR will also begin their Scholarship Program Application 2021 offering academic scholarships to employees and their families. In addition, SOAR will host a Virtual Round Table Hiring Discussion by the Sodexo Workforce Initiative on October 12 run by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. The Workforce Initiative pairs local diverse community organizations with Sodexo managers looking to hire individuals in the communities in which we serve.

Follow Sodexo’s NDEAM blog hosted by SOAR’s executive sponsor here. Sodexo will also be changing cover images on social media platforms to engage with a larger community on the month’s importance.


Allstate Insurance Company

The Abilities Beyond Limitations & Expectations (ABLE) employee resource group is hosting a webinar that will focus on NDEAM and include stories from employees with disabilities about their experiences navigating employment spaces, and Allstate will have experts from the Talent Acquisition and Workplace Accommodations Team describe the supports currently in place to assist and empower employees with disabilities at work.

Allstate is broadcasting awareness of NDEAM workshops and webinars being offered by their external partner Disability:IN to encourage employees to engage in the content at their availability.

The company has also recently added all job openings in the state of North Carolina to the Our Ability portal, which will help connecting individuals with disabilities to jobs at Allstate. The goal is to eventually expand that to include all job postings at Allstate nationwide by the end of 2022. Allstate is trying to get more targeted in ways that proactively recruit people with disabilities to come work at Allstate.


Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Two of the company’s resource network groups, Community for Overcoming Obstacles of Life (COOL) and Resources, Outreach & Outlooks to Support Parents (ROOTS) are collaborating on a couple of activities and communications throughout the month. A collaborative program with the Women’s Network Group will focus on depression awareness. Additionally, throughout the month there will be communications on employee resources and benefits available to employees.

Employee highlights will appear on the company’s Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages throughout the month.


Health Care Service Corporation

HCSC has two events planned in observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The In-Abled Business Resource Group, that works to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for people with disabilities and caregivers, will be hosting these events. HCSC will send out company-wide communications and leverage technology to engage employees in the activities taking place in October. Below is a list of planned activities:

  • Accessible by Design: In-Abled will host Accessible by Design with Tom Wlodkowski, vice president of Accessibility and Assistive Technologies at Comcast. This event is part of Being Digital, an ongoing speaker series. Wlodkowski will explore the importance of incorporating accessibility as an early part of the digital design process to ensure quality experiences are shared by all users and barriers are removed toaccessing products and services.
  • Working with a Disability: The HCSC Experience, the In-Abled BRG, and the Information Technology People with Disabilities Workstream will host a panel discussion with team members from across HCSC. The conversation will focus on firsthand experiences around navigating our physical and virtual work environment and offer tips on how employees can do their part to build an inclusive workplace culture.navigating our physical and virtual work environment and offer tips on how employees can do their part to build an inclusive workplace culture.

About the Authors

Deanna Keenan
Research Analyst, Insights
Seramount