Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month? Adelante supports dozens of clients employed competitively out in the community, as well as directly employing people with disabilities through our social enterprises, so disability employment is an issue close to our mission.

But why exactly is it important we celebrate NDEAM? Why should we continue to raise awareness about employing people with disabilities when discrimination against disabilities in the workplace is illegal? Well, we have a pretty stark fact: While the news just broke that our country as a whole is seeing 50-year unemployment lows, there is still one talented group with 81% of its members not participating in the workforce: people with developmental disabilities.

Kind of shocking, isn’t it?

Even with many benefits that come with hiring a person with a disability, there are still too many people with disabilities, many of whom are our own clients, seeking competitive employment to no avail.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. This year’s NDEAM theme is “The right talent, right now.” We couldn’t agree more.

Including people with disabilities in your workplace isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good for your organization’s performance and bottom line. The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) has even found that the profile of an employee with intellectual and developmental disabilities reads like that of an ideal employee. Almost nine out of ten employers surveyed, for example, rated their employees with IDD as “good” or “very good” on dependability and engagement. The results don’t stop there: another study found that companies that actively hire people with disabilities have, on average, 23% higher revenue. Finally: more creative problem solving, increased employee morale, and better employee retention are all benefits hiring managers see when they hire people with disabilities! There are many deserving people who can impact your business or organization, but you cannot realize these benefits until you give them opportunity to work for you.

Two men stand together. Joe, the job coach, stands behind Jose, Adelante's supported employment participant. They are standing in front of a shelf with sports drinks and tea.
Jose, pictured with his job coach Joe, works at a local supermarket. He keeps morale high with his humor and is well-known in his community.

The disability community is our nation’s largest minority, and it’s the only minority that anyone can join any time. Hiring people with disabilities is a diversity and inclusion issue. Providing equal opportunity to everyone—including your employees with disabilities—benefits all of your employees.

Adelante’s preference and priority is to help people find competitive employment in the community. However, we offer a full range of vocational training and employment opportunities, including working directly for us if people have been looking for several years and cannot find or maintain a job. Sometimes a person just needs a first opportunity to succeed, so Adelante is willing to fill that role and help train and employ people as they build their skills. We celebrate what our clients CAN do, and work to spread that message in their workplaces and the community.

A man and a woman fist bump and smile for the camera. The man, Stephen, just started his job working at a local restaurant.  Sarah supported him in being hired.
Stephen celebrates landing a job with his job developer Sarah. Adelante can support your business in hiring a person with a disability.

People with disabilities add value to your business and can be some of your most loyal employees, but only if you have an open mind and recognize their talents.

Many people with disabilities are looking for work right now. If you’re looking for new employees, contact Adelante and we can help you hire a person with a disability and provide long-term support if they need it. Please call (505)341-2000 or email ExplorePrograms@GoAdelante.org for more information about hiring someone with a disability. If you’d like to know more about utilizing Adelante’s business services to help employ people with disabilities, please visit www.AdelanteEnterprises.com.

Adelante appreciates all the businesses that already work with us as an employer or as a business customer of Adelante Enterprises. Together, we can improve the statistics on disability employment.