Welcome to a unique opportunity to find a new pool of potential employees with a diversity of skills who are eager, loyal and committed to succeeding in a competitive, integrated workforce. Working Together is a campaign to create inclusive employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and to provide businesses and employers “how to” strategies for recruiting, hiring and retaining these employees in an inclusive work environment.
The Importance of Employment First: Integrated, Competitive Employment
Employment frees people with disabilities to pursue financial self-sufficiency and independence, eliminates isolation and engages them in new professional and social circles which provide a real purpose in life and strong sense of belonging. Their financial independence allows state and national agencies to better serve others in need and relieves their families from straining financial responsibilities.
Integrated, competitive employment is the number one goal for people with disabilities on an individual, state and national level. This means employment is seen as the best and preferred outcome for ALL people of working age – including those with developmental disabilities – across the state. In fact, Governor John Bel Edwards created SAME (State As a Model Employer) to challenge state government agencies to employ individuals with disabilities and the state has adopted Employment First as a goal.
This goal focuses on helping and encouraging all working age adults – including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities – to find and sustain employment in real-world jobs with competitive compensation who are fully integrated into the workplace as the best solution for their continued well-being. These efforts in Louisiana are part of a larger national movement to advance employment of individuals with disabilities through policy, legislation, advocacy and systems change.
The purpose of the Working Together campaign is to provide employers with hands-on, “how-to” recruitment, hiring and retention strategies for employees with I/DD. This initiative will help companies and employers find the quality employees they need and create a more inclusive workforce.
Opening an organization’s recruitment and hiring processes to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities allows employers to tap into a valuable source of potential employees who are reliable, productive and motivated to succeed. Inc. Magazine identified 13 benefits of hiring people with developmental disabilities and they include:
1. Employers love them – People with disabilities win over employers’ and customers’ hearts with their sincere smiles, their commitment to their work and strong desire to succeed.
2. These employees are reliable and more productive – Employees with disabilities were rated higher on having less sick days, arriving on time for work daily, and returning on time from breaks than their co-workers and continually meet or exceed the performance of their peers.
3. People with disabilities have staying power, are grateful to have a job and do not seek new employment very often – reducing hiring and training costs.
4. Continued improvement and camaraderie – Typically, employees with disabilities’ work performance improves steadily – even workers with more profound disabilities; and employers have witnessed more camaraderie and a positive effect on their entire staff when an employee with developmental disabilities is on their team.
5. Employees who are happy to be there – No attitudes here. Employers report that they are extremely satisfied with employees with developmental disabilities because they truly love their jobs, embrace the opportunity and respect authority.
In addition, employing people with developmental disabilities drives innovative, creative solutions within the company and increases accessibility awareness among management and staff for both customers and employees. Recruiting, hiring and employing people with disabilities engages supervisors in disability issues and results in better communications.
A Life-Changing Event
Jobs are truly life-changing events for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their first job or internship can make a huge difference in their lives and dramatically improve their standard of living over their lifetime. Equally as important, employment often leads to more inclusive living – more social and professional opportunities which allow them to break out of the isolation of a group home or a sheltering family. An inclusive employment opportunity is the pathway to long-term financial independence and social inclusion for people with disabilities and provides a sense of purpose in their lives.
“It’s easy to take employment opportunities for granted, but for people with special abilities – it is more than a job – it’s a recognition of their talent, a chance to gain financial independence and a pathway to social inclusion,” said Anthony K. Shriver, founder and chief executive officer of Best Buddies International. “Plus, it improves the bottom line for businesses, large and small, every day.”
Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council (LaDDC) Mission
The mission of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council is to increase independence, self-determination, productivity, integration and inclusion for Louisianans with developmental disabilities by engaging in advocacy, capacity building and systems change. LaDDC is sponsoring the Working Together campaign to demonstrate the effectiveness and success of employing people with disabilities and share the financial and non-monetary incentives available to companies that employ them.
Questions? Contact: Gordon O’Neill, Campaign Coordinator, 404-310-6188, firstname.lastname@example.org