Each October, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the many contributions and achievements of employees with disabilities are recognized and celebrated.
The 2023 NDEAM theme is “Advancing Access and Equity” to honor the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
It is an honor for me to join in this celebration and share what I have learned about the value of hiring people with disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
When I was Vanderburgh County Auditor, I sat on the board of directors for the county’s leading provider of IDD services – The Arc of Evansville. Since then, I have championed issues important to people with IDD.
Today, I proudly chair Indiana’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities task force. These experiences provide me countless opportunities to talk with people with IDD.
One common goal is shared by nearly everyone in the IDD community: to find a job where they can earn a paycheck and live a full life connected to family, friends, and coworkers.
Last month, to learn firsthand how hiring people with IDD can be part of the workforce crisis solution, I met with businesses around the state committed to hiring people with IDD. I applaud those companies and hope others see that people with IDD can be part of the solution to their workforce needs.
Employees with IDD are dependable, loyal, and eager to learn. An article published in the Harvard Business Review notes that it is a mistake and a missed opportunity to think employing people with disabilities is a social cause best suited for nonprofits or the public sector.
The article’s research suggests that having employees with disabilities in its workforce can build a firm’s competitive advantage in four ways:
- Disabilities often confer unique talents that make people better at particular jobs;
- The presence of employees with disabilities elevates the culture of the entire organization, making it more collaborative and boosting productivity;
- A reputation for inclusiveness enhances a firm’s value proposition with customers, who become more willing to build long-term relationships with the company;
- Being recognized as socially responsible gives a firm an edge in the competition for capital and talent. (1)
This National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I challenge employers to rethink their approach to addressing the workforce shortage in Indiana.
Recruit workers with IDD and discover how beneficial these employees will be to your businesses. As I have witnessed, you will find a limitless pool of dedicated employees.
(1) Harvard Business Review (July/August 2023)
Disability as a Source of Competitive AdvantageEmploying people with disabilities can significantly improve an organization, by Luisa Alemany and Freek Vermeulen
Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
Suzanne Crouch, from Evansville, Indiana, is in the middle of her second term as Lieutenant Governor of Indiana.
In addition to overseeing four state agencies and serving as president of the Indiana Senate, Crouch is the state’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. She also chairs the Intellectual and Development Disabilities Task Force, the Indiana Roundtable on Mental Health and the Civics Education Commission.