What is Inclusive Employment?

October is National Disability Employment Month (NDEAM), which recognizes the vital role that people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive workforce, celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities past and present, and highlights supportive and inclusive employment policies and practices. What do we mean when we talk about inclusive employment?

According to Understood.org, inclusive employment is an equal opportunity for employees with disabilities to succeed, to learn, to advance, and to be compensated fairly, and to be employed in a workplace that includes people without disabilities. Equal opportunities arise throughout the employment process, from recruiting workers to hiring and onboarding, all the way through advancement and retirement. Reasonable workplace accommodations are key to providing these opportunities to workers with disabilities. According to the NIDILRR-funded ADA Network Knowledge Translation Center, a reasonable workplace accommodation is “any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities.”

Inclusive employment is not just good for workers with disabilities, it is good for business. By using inclusive employment practices and policies and fostering a culture of diversity in their businesses, employers may benefit from varied perspectives on how to confront business challenges and achieve success. Employers and hiring managers may learn more about inclusive and diverse employment practices and policies through various resources, including the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE). CDE is a collaborative effort funded by the Office of Disability Employment (ODEP) that promotes positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities and encourages employers and others to recognize the value and talents that workers with disabilities bring to the workplace and to implement flexible and inclusive practices in their workplaces. The US Department of Labor created a list of resources that employers, human resource professionals, and hiring managers may use to create a diverse and inclusive workforce. ODEP created a four-step guide that employers may use to recruit, hire, and retain employees with disabilities.

NIDILRR funds research and development projects that look at various aspects of inclusive employment, including rural youth apprenticeship development in rural areas, a workplace accommodation expert support system, and inclusive information and communications technology, among others. NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 150 articles, guides, and other documents on inclusive employment from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere. In its Research In Focus series, NARIC highlights interesting results from NIDILRR-funded research in easy-to-read articles, including:

To learn more about inclusive employment or for assistance in doing your own search in REHABDATA, contact NARIC’s information specialists via phone, email, or chat.