The Disability Equality Index Evolves – What’s New in 2019 (Part 2)

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Since 2014 when Disability:IN and AAPD jointly launched the Disability Equality Index (DEI), we’ve been guided by our purpose to empower businesses to achieve disability inclusion and equality.  The DEI is a rigorous, fair, and transparent benchmarking tool that helps companies identify opportunities for continued improvement, as well as build a reputation as an employer of choice.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, we’re constantly evaluating the criteria of the DEI to ensure the policies and practices we put in place further the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities across the business enterprise. As such, key weighted changes will go into effect in calendar year 2019. These questions and answers were designed to help in the completion of the 2019 DEI.

What is a personality profile screening test?

A personality test is an assessment used by employers to help find a candidate whose character traits are best suited for a specific position. The pre-employment testing is designed to reveal particular aspects of a candidate’s personality and estimate the likelihood he or she will excel in such a position.

Why is this question important to the disability community?

If your business uses personality profile screening tests/instruments for any position as part of the employment screening process, it is encouraged to allow applicants with disabilities the option to opt-out of the test as an accommodation.

Personality tests inherently hinder prospective and current employees and leaders whose disabilities impact social communication, mood, anxiety, energy, and a broad range of other cognitive differences. They are also prone to reinforcing implicit biases that disproportionately thwart people of color, women, the LGBTQ communities, people from low-income backgrounds, etc.

Discrimination against people with certain disabilities often looks like “a bad cultural fit” or “we just didn’t click.” Personality tests feed this type of invisible discrimination.

What is supported employment?

Supported employment refers to service provisions wherein people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, mental health, and traumatic brain injury, among others, are assisted with obtaining and maintaining employment. In many cases, individuals with significant disabilities would qualify for supported employment funded by a government agency, a provider of services to individuals with disabilities, or the employer. Not everyone within these disability categories will need supported employment services.

Supported employment means competitive work in an integrated work setting. Supported employment for people with significant disabilities could be provided directly by the employer, or through external service providers, such as a government rehabilitation agency.  Supported employment is both an approach and an array of services that enables people with significant disabilities to be successful in the workplace. The goal is for people to become as independent as possible in their jobs or careers. Examples include, but are not limited to, one-on-one coaching and extended training programs.

Why is this question important to the disability community?

Supported employment means competitive work in an integrated work setting. It is an accommodation for someone who needs more intense assistance to participate in an interview and/or learn his/her job. Supported employment is typically provided to someone who has a significant disability but can perform the essential functions of a job with added support. That support can include job coaching, someone providing assistance at the jobsite to help the employee learn his/her job, and training that is customized to meet the employee’s specific needs. It may take the employee a bit longer to learn his/her position, but once mastered, individuals accessing supported employment services are often excellent long-term employees.

Supported employment services can include:

  • Support finding and getting a job
  • Working with the employer on job customization and/or job carving
  • Job training (both job tasks as well as soft skills, etc.)
  • Identifying and recruiting natural supports
  • Training/supporting employers, managers, and coworkers
  • Fading supports over time, with ongoing intermittent assistance as needed

Employees using supported employment services may also use reasonable accommodations, assistive technology, and personal attendant services.

What is retention and advancement?

Retention refers to the monitoring of and response to both voluntary and involuntary turnover to address any anomalies by demographic group inclusive of people who are living with a disability.  We ask that you include those who are designated as voluntary departures as this can often be a language choice for separations that the employee and/or their manager would prefer to use to maintain positive relationships and confidentiality when in fact the separation was due to reasons related to their disability.  Examples might include not accommodating a request for a flexible work arrangement or making other adjustments needed for the person to stay and grow with the company.

Advancement may include but is not limited to talent development efforts such as:

  • Documented and monitored development plans
  • Developmental job assignments
  • Rotational opportunities including global assignments
  • Cross-functional moves
  • Selection to be a part of a team working on an important project
  • Visibility to senior management by giving a presentation
  • Mentoring and/or sponsorship programs
  • Promotional opportunities
  • Designation as “High Potential” and associated development plan to accelerate job responsibility & growth
  • Participation in selective management or leadership development training.

Why is this question important to the disability community?

Employees with disabilities tend to be more recently hired or may have returned work after experiencing a medical leave of absence to manage a heath condition.  As with any other employee, it is important to have a mentor/sponsor whether that is their manager and/or another influential ally/resource in the company.  This is someone who is knowledgeable about the employee’s contributions, ambitions and ability to grow and learn, and who will speak up during talent calibration and ranking/rating sessions associated with talent development and retention.

All employees need individuals who can speak both to their performance and potential so that they have equal access to candid developmental feedback and opportunities to keep their skills current with the changing needs of the business and within their areas of functional expertise and interest. Without this sponsorship, individuals with disabilities can languish, becoming both under-employed given what they are capable of, and potentially more vulnerable if there is a reduction in force or a change in the needs of the business and the associated desired skill sets.

Supplier Diversity

Supplier diversity efforts have greatly advanced over the past five decades, and now is a pivotal time for diverse supplier inclusion and many corporations and government agencies are in the formative stages of recognizing, promoting, and utilizing disability suppliers. Like the diverse-owned businesses recognized before them, disability-owned business enterprises have joined the ranks of minority-, woman-, lgbtq-, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses as participants in global supply chains. We are encouraged by this progress and wish to highlight leading business practices as examples for others to adopt.

While the utilization and development of disability-owned business enterprises is certainly a primary goal, it is a business imperative to establish policies and practices to ensure continued progress and sustainability. Some examples of advanced levels of disability inclusion are: using contract language to influence prime contractors (Tier II), providing technical and business assistance to disability and service-disabled veteran suppliers, and creating forums at the executive level to strategize on disability supplier inclusion.

Disability:IN helps companies gain the resources, consultation, and tools to accelerate disability inclusion. The recognition and acceptance of Disability:IN’s Supplier Diversity Program continues to grow, as evidenced by the increased number of corporate partners who are actively involved. Additionally, the recognition of Disability-Owned Businesses Enterprises (DOBEs®), Service-Disabled Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV-DOBEs™) and Veteran-Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (V-DOBEs™) as accepted certifications by the Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR). This is a decision that will significantly increase bidding and contract opportunities for disability suppliers.

DEI Registration is now open for 2019. We hope all eligible companies plan to participate!