Erin Kelly, a writer with cerebral palsy, on an exciting new development for disabled people who are looking for work.
The world is changing. The workforce is and will always change with it. One of those changes is the growing demand for employment and the need for passionate, capable workers.
Perhaps more than ever before, companies today take initiative to hire individuals from all walks of life, regardless of race, color, gender, or sexual orientation.
That milestone speaks volumes itself—and according to this recent article from Yahoo, two of the nation’s leading experts on disability employment—Deb Russell and Meg O’Connell—are looking steps further.
An estimated 15.8 percent of workers on a national scale are physically or mentally challenged — with numbers skyrocketing globally. Russell and O’Connell have reportedly launched Global Disability Inclusion, LLC—a joint company whose mission is to not only meet the growing demand for employment of all disabled workers, but to also lend advice and guidance to those looking for work. By doing this, the founders hope to create a platform for global outreach and impact. It’s notable to mention the original article that first broke the news also states that, according to the US Department of Labor, there are nearly 200,000 federal contractor establishments nationwide. All of whom should be put on notice with the launch of this new organization.
In a statement regarding Global Disability Inclusion’s goals, O’Connell said,
”When we looked at the disability employment landscape, the majority of resources are focused only on solutions in the US. Yet, most large employers have a global presence. With GDI’s expertise and reach, we can respond globally while thinking locally.”
On the heals of this launch, the US Department of Labor made a decision that requires federal contractors to set numerical goals for hiring those with disabilities. This ruling is the first of its kind.
All these changes are steps towards progression. Not only are those steps being taken by the government, but also by people who want to give the disabled community more opportunity. It’s a movement that’s building on the simple, principle idea of the 1950’s—everyone deserves the right to feel the satisfaction of human dignity.
As someone with cerebral palsy who’s gone through the motions of trying to find a job, this is a welcomed change. I think it’s even more refreshing to know that there are laws in place for disabled workers, especially considering it was just a few short months ago that thousands of them were getting paid mere pennies per hour (many still are).
Granted, I landed my first job as a writer a few years before this occurred—but I’ll never forget the feeling of displacement and inadequacy I felt on the path to getting that job.
I also think the emergence of Russell and O’Connell’s new company stems back to the ideals of equality and simplicity. Disabled workers are no different than any other worker in that they, too, have families they may have to provide for. If it’s not for that reason, then perhaps it’s a simple case of wanting to make the people in their lives proud—or because they need to conquer the feeling of their own inadequacy in order to be a contributing member of society.
That 15.8 percent didn’t have many options before news of Global Disability Inclusion broke last month. However, now it seems like disabled individuals across the board will have the option of choosing from employment opportunities that they feel they’re best suited for.
Furthermore, the fact that they’re capable of even holding a job may be reward enough—for them as well as their families. That itself brings another observation to the table.
Many workers are forced to take jobs as a way of economic or financial survival—almost 20 percent of which are happy to even be considered for a job—regardless of whether or not they’re hired. You’ve got a new company on the market that promises more opportunity. Will this be the push that the global economy needs to draw a general line between going to work because you have no other option and going to work because it makes you happy?
Time will tell, as is true of all progress. In the meantime, the disabled community around the world can now breathe a little easier knowing there’s someone out there shining a beacon of newfound hope and opportunity.
–Original Photo: RedWorm/Flickr