October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Annual awareness campaign receives a boost at UCR

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an annual awareness campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor; it takes place nationwide each October to educate employers about disability employment issues.

UC Riverside is actively taking steps to be more inclusive in its hiring practices, and this month, Marsha Marion, the manager of Workplace Health and Wellness, Human Resources, announced that the campus will be taking part in National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The annual awareness campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor; it takes place nationwide each October to educate employers about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme — “Expect. Employ. Empower.” — conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring, says Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “It’s about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation,” she added.

Research shows that aside from diversifying the workforce, individuals with disabilities impact the workplace positively. They tend to be more reliable, appreciate their jobs more, and have lower-than-average absenteeism, stay in their jobs longer and have a positive work ethic, says Emma Geach, a senior employment analyst at UCR. With the campus’s involvement in NDEAM, Geach says, “We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.”

Manager of Workplace Health and Wellness Marsha Marion, Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Ronald T. Coley, and Emma Geach, a senior employment analyst, hold up posters to be distriibuted around campus for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Manager of Workplace Health and Wellness Marsha Marion, Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Ronald T. Coley, and Emma Geach, a senior employment analyst, hold up posters to be distriibuted around campus for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Reflecting this year’s theme, throughout the month, UC Riverside’s Human Resources department will be scheduling informal “drop-ins” to distribute campaign posters and speak to the departments about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities. HR will also drop off HR packets that include information about services that HR provides, such as disability management and recruitment.

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep.

Next year, Marsha Marion, manager of Workplace Health and Wellness, will be making a proposal to Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources Jadie Lee and Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services, Ronald T. Coley, for a more robust program for the campus. This proposal will recommend promoting the NDEAM by hosting a month-long celebration, bringing in speakers on disability employment awareness and invite the campus to participate in a variety of related activities.

“The most important thing to know is that we’re promoting an awareness effort so UCR can be looked at as an employer of choice. That way, employees will want to work here because they feel welcome. We would like people to see our efforts and be inspired by it,” Geach added.

“National Disability Employment Awareness month provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to salute those within our community who have any form of disability and to reaffirm our commitment to remain that place where everyone will have an equal opportunity to live the UCR promise,” said Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Ronald T. Coley. “We do this not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is the smart thing to do. Many of our community members who are disabled are also among our most talented and energetic contributors to the excellence that is UCR. Please join me in honoring them for the value they bring to our campus community.”

Did you know?

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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