- The SHRM Foundation and Workplace Initiative by Understood announced a free training program for HR pros and hiring managers to help businesses improve disability inclusion in their workplaces. The Employing Abilities @Work Certificate "dispels myths and highlights opportunities to hire, retain, develop, and advance employees with disabilities in the workplace," according to press releases from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Understood.
- The program contains 12 micro-learning modules around topics such as recruiting, inclusive culture, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and breaking down stereotypes.
- "Organizations that embrace and invest in people with disabilities, whether invisible or visible, strengthen their business, their culture, and create a more productive workplace that embraces differences," said Fred Poses, chief executive officer of the Workplace Initiative by Understood, a social impact program that partnered with SHRM for the content of this certification. Together, they hope this new offering "will strengthen the capabilities of HR professionals, organizations and managers," Poses said.
Organizations need to be aware of the ways the novel coronavirus is affecting all employees, particularly those who may be part of a protected class, and people with disabilities are no exception.
Inclusion for people with disabilities was a growing issue even before the pandemic, as a study released in February 2020 found that growth in disability employment has been slowing down for two years. Some are optimistic, however, that the rise of remote working could be an equalizer for professionals with a disability or chronic illness.
The backbone of workplace protections for people with disabilities is the ADA, of which one of the most important components is the requirement of "reasonable accommodations" in the workplace.
"A reasonable accommodation is a modification that the person needs in order to do the job or enjoy the benefits and privileges of the job," David K. Fram, the director of ADA and EEO services for the National Employment Law Institute, previously told HR Dive. Fram also previously offered HR Dive some practical advice for avoiding ADA claims. He suggested training supervisors to understand "that they must give more" to people who need a reasonable accommodation, even if it appears to be preferential treatment.
Employers who fail to hire and retain diverse workforces do so at the risk of running against worker preferences for strong diversity, in addition to missing out on valuable perspectives in their product development and revenue generation strategies. Workers with disabilities, in particular, represent an untapped talent pool.
"The environment out in the marketplace shows that the highest demographic of individuals that are unemployed are people with disabilities," Carlos Cubia, vice president and global chief diversity officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, told HR Dive in a previous interview. Yet, individuals with disabilities "bring innovation and creativity to the workforce," he said.