Monday, December 21, 2009

Going Viral

The fear of hiring people with disabilities stems from a number of reasons and not just one single preconceived notion. This fear often originates from unknowns such as cost or liability. This is unfortunate because almost one-third of ADA accommodation can be met at zero cost and liability is actually greater when not hiring an individual with a disability. Fortunately, this fear can be overcome.

I work for a large corporation that values diversity and believes that its strength comes from a diverse culture. Knowing that this company operates with these beliefs has allowed me to create a truly diverse recruiting strategy with an emphasis on building and sustaining an inclusive workforce. Unsure of where to begin, I was pointed in the direction of the New Mexico Business Leadership Network (NMBLN). Their efforts, assistance, direction, and support was invaluable in building the foundation to our success.

By building meaningful relationships within the community, we were easily able to identify the resources that would help us connect with qualified individuals seeking employment. Before long, I had job seekers, agencies, and employers were all reaching out directly to me to learn more about opportunities for recruiting, hiring, and retaining people with disabilities. Additionally, my peers across the nation were also contacting us with questions about recruiting strategies and training implementation.

This small effort by one person in a small city has gone viral. We all have the ability to truly make a difference when it comes to building an inclusive workforce. Disability does not equal inability. Employees with disabilities often have higher production and retention rates along with lower absenteeism rates. Our employees are focused, dedicated, and loyal.

Due to a collaborative effort by business leaders, the community, and organizations like the New Mexico Business Leadership Network, companies are looking to hire qualified people with disabilities. It takes all of us working together and combining our thoughts, ideas, and resources, to overcome the barriers of fear. By getting involved, staying involved, sharing experiences and asking questions, we have the collective strength to make a very real difference. We have a powerful impact on disability employment.

Michelle M. Gonzalez
Human Resources Professional
Board Member, New Mexico Business Leadership Network

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