Rudstam said employers can start the inclusiveness process by asking themselves how people with disabilities fare in their organizations.
“Are they hired? Are they coached? Are their talents and contributions valued? Are accommodations provided quickly and effectively?
“Ultimately, what happens generally to workers with disabilities in the workplace will happen to veterans with disabilities,” Rudstam said.
“The best way to welcome veterans with disabilities back into the workforce is to provide workplace conditions, practices and environments that enable them to fully apply their talents and skills to their jobs.”
Despite federal legislation mandating rights for people with disabilities in workplaces and other sites, four of every five Americans with disabilities is unemployed. Fifty-four million people in the United States have disabilities.
“Representing nearly 20 percent of our population, people with disabilities rarely are the focus of diversity efforts. This exclusion is not only problematic on moral grounds, it also compromises the ability of employers to fully engage the talents of their employees,” Rudstam said.
“Next time you’re at work, look around. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, about one-third of the people in your workplace will acquire a long-term disability before reaching the age of 60.
“For these people, having an employer with effective disability inclusiveness policies will make the difference between staying in or exiting the work force.
“Disability inclusiveness isn’t just about the law or about empathy,” Rudstam said. “Employers who provide accommodations enabling people with a disability to remain effective in their jobs will reap the benefits of maintaining a fully engaged workforce.”
I agree with Miss Rudstam that it is about time that American institutes of higher learning show concern for our wounded warriors — starting with Cornell University, whose track record for hiring is MIA.
• Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, DC 20035-5900; fax: 301/622-3330; call: 202/257-5446; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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