National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Pat Maher Discusses National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates the public about the value of creating a workforce that includes the skills and talents of people with disabilities. Reflecting the important role that different perspectives play in workforce success, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme was “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

In honor of NDEAM, we’re pleased to feature a guest blog post from one of our favorite partners, SPR Consulting.  SPR’s five favorite things about hiring people with disabilities (PwD) include:

  1. PwD are creative and innovative by nature
  2. PwD are tech savvy
  3. Many PwD manage change and disruption well
  4. Great employees come from all segments of the labor force – including PwD
  5. PwD add to a company’s culture like any diverse segment

Read what SPR has to say about the benefits of developing a diverse, inclusive workforce below:

Forward-Thinking Companies Embrace NDEAM Theme: Inclusion Drives Innovation

At SPR Consulting we are committed to developing a diverse workforce, not out of a need for recognition or to check boxes, but because we’re a culture that values unique perspectives and multiple ways of approaching challenges. We benefit and our clients benefit.

SPR launched nAblement in 2003 to offer candidates with disabilities an opportunity to grow into tech careers, whether at SPR or at our clients. From our CEO down, we have remained committed to sourcing, developing and deploying professionals with disabilities into promising opportunities in the technology field. From software testing and desktop support to development, these colleagues have contributed to our success.

In fact, in 2008 we launched the IT Knowledge and Abilities Network – ITKAN – along with the Illinois Technology Association, with the marketing tagline of “Providing Knowledge, Network and Opportunity”. Our monthly meetings have become a staple in the tech community and, since 2010, we have been hosted at the Microsoft Technology Center. Our experts have presented on topics ranging from Drones to Blockchain and Virtual Reality to Robotics. To date we’ve hosted over 90 meetings on leading edge tech topics.

While the nAblement brand no longer exists, we’ve never lost our drive to seek out, hire and support a highly diverse and innovative workforce, including professionals with disabilities. We’ve continued to establish strategic relationships with historically overlooked and, by definition, undervalued segments of the workforce.

SPR has strategic relationships with partners like Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, Year Up Chicago, and LEARN Charter Schools. We are actively working with the veteran community to take advantage of the exceptional qualities of those who have served in our Armed Forces. To support gender balance we are developing partnerships with organizations such as Step Up, a professional, women led non-profit whose mission is to propel girls from under-resourced communities to fulfill their potential, as well as the National Center for Women and Technology – NCWIT. We’re also exploring a partnership with the Cara Program which serves clients who have been impacted by poverty on the road back to self-esteem and the power of work.

Finally, SPR is a corporate partner to academic research that is investigating the quality of life and career opportunities of diverse populations at Rehabilitation Psychology departments of the Universities of Wisconsin, Illinois, IIT and Virginia Commonwealth among others. Further, we are engaged with University of Chicago Urban Labs as they research and address some of the most complex challenges facing our city and its most vulnerable residents.

Underrepresented segments of our labor force have historically faced common challenges like overt or less obvious discrimination, more difficult paths to career advancement, stigma, tokenism, and the need to question whether their talents are truly valued by their employer. By actively seeking out quality candidates from among people with disabilities, veterans, opportunity youth, and other underrepresented populations, while consciously considering historic gender disparity in both hiring and promoting, forward-thinking organizations are positioning themselves to outperform their competition while developing more respectful and human-centered cultures. NDEAM has it right…Inclusion does drive Innovation.

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