Employer Practices to Improve Employment Outcomes: Considerations across the Employment Process

Employer Practices to Improve Employment Outcomes: Considerations across the Employment Process

February 21, 2017

Peter Berg

Welcome to the February session of the ADA audio conference series, a project of the ADA National Network, the ADA national network is funded by the national Department of Health and Human Services administration on community living, national institute on disability, independent living and rehabilitation research.

The ADA National Network is comprised of ten regional ADA centers. We are very pleased that you have joined us today for today's session. Today's speaker is someone who is quite familiar with the ADA National Network, as she's served for a time as the director of the northeast ADA center. We are pleased to have with us today Susan Bruyere, she is the director of the program on employment and disability at Cornell University.

Following her presentation today, we will have an opportunity for participants to ask questions, for those of you participating on the telephone, we will bring our Heather back to give you instructions. Those of you in the webinar room, as you heard from the instructions from Claudia, you can type your questions into the chat area, to the, during the session today. Without further ado, I would like to turn it over to Susan Bruyere. Welcome.


Thank you, Peter. It is great to be here with folks that I know well from the past and also new folks out there. I'm delighted to see so much interest in this topic and pleased to have an opportunity to share with you what we have been working on, and I hope its it's relevant to our listeners today.

I will also acknowledge that this material that we will be presenting today has been funded by the same funding organization that funds our ADA centers, and that is the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. We have had a grant for approximately six years, but many years, a good 25 years of research looking at employer practices and how that impacts the experience of inclusion, successful hiring and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. What we are going to share with you today is, a big picture overview of the concerted effort we have made in the last set of years, last five to six years to look across many different sources of information, to better understand where people with disabilities are working, and where hiring and integration people with disabilities is working and how employers are doing in that and share with you the sources of information and what we have found from them, both to provide an overview of where information can be found, but also the specifics of what we have learned is effective good practice and what can better facilitate for both employers and for people who are providing consultations services like many of you out there to employers, a way forward for us all to do a better job in that process.

The title that we have today is employer practices to improve employment outcomes, considerations across the employment process, and we call it that because it's not just getting people in the front door, what we are finding is it's important to help think through and education employers about recruitment hiring but also retention, advancement and experience of inclusion for people with disabilities.

First thing I'm going to talk about is why we believe and focus on employer practices across the employment process is important, and I'll give you some examples of documentation of why we believe so. Then we are going to talk about the data sources where we have been able to gather information from and how that has been a very interdisciplinary effort, and what I mean is we have a fantastic team of people from different types of professional and academic scholarly expertise contribute to our work, using different data sources and many different types of techniques. I'll talk a little about that. I think what is going to be probably of most interest to those of you who have joined us today, is understanding what we have learned from this inquiry across so many different people, and sources of information, and specifically, what the implications are for employers who are trying to do a better job in disability in place inclusion but also for those who are providing technical and training services to businesses to help them in doing so. We are going to leave you with on-line resources for future reference, both sources of information that gives in-depth scholarly summaries of what we are doing, but also some on-line tools we have created to make it easier for people to access this information when they need it.

So, why focus on employer practices? I think I probably don't have to do a hard sell to all of you out there, or you wouldn't have joined us today. But indeed, it is very timely to be focused on these issues for a whole host of reasons. Always I think it's always true that listening to the voice of employers and finding out from them what is working and not working and what inspires and makes it possible for them to proactively work on employment of people with disabilities as well as advancement and retention is important, but we also know that contextually we are, it's a good time to be doing so because there are federal regulations that support those of us who have an interest, both employers and disability advocates, trainers in doing so right now. That is both in the private and in the federal sector. In the federal sector there is a initiative to do concerted hiring which has been in place for a while now, presidential order. And a bar for federal agencies to approximate with affirmative action requirements, but the same is also true for federal subcontractors in the private sector, an initiative which has been there but in the last two years has much more precision to it with a 7 percent aspirational goal across all job categories for federal subcontractors of $10,000 or more. Selective organizations both in the federal and in the private sector have targeted hiring initiatives, but in addition, more broadly than that, and that is one point, I think, actually more, 2.3 million I believe in the federal sector, employees, and about a quarter of the American workforce fall under federal subcontractor, so we are talking about a sizable part of the American workforce. It is not an insignificant part of our labor workforce to be paying attention to. But over and above that, as many of us know that there are many changes in the workplace and in the workforce, which makes it important for us to be looking at what is happening and what impact that has on employer practices. And some of the things to be thinking about of course is contingent workforces, more subcontracting and outsourcing of jobs, which we should be aware of and how it will impact people with disabilities, but also the changing nature of our very technology intensive workplace now, so being able to afford people the skills that they need to be able to be marketable in that environment is important for those of us who are preparing people with disabilities for the workforce.

As I mentioned, attention needs to be across the employment process because it can be at any point from getting a job to losing a job, at the end of that process, that disability discrimination can occur or accommodation may be needed, and it's important to help equip employers, supervisors, hiring managers with the skills and awareness they need to be able to get out in front of that, and do a good job, a responsible job of responding when people articulate their needs.

And we believe to be effective in identifying what is effective practices that we need to be drawing from many sources, which you will hear more about today.

First of all, a bit about our data sources and the interdisciplinary nature of the way we have gathered data over this several-year time period. As I mentioned we have used a wide array of data sources, such as large data set analysis. We have worked with census data and administrative data. We conducted surveys both with employers and with people with disabilities, we have conducted interviews within organizations of HR managers, supervisors, people with disabilities and coworkers and conducted focus groups with those populations, some in the same setting, some in different settings, different organizations working both in the federal and private sector. We have had an opportunity to do deep dives studies into organizations which means we have employed several of those other tools, surveys, interviews and focus groups in gathering more data in particular companies or federal agencies, and we have also at different times looked at archival data within those organizations, and drawn from other sources as well.

It's been trans disciplinary, in that we worked across disciplines trying to pull in each of these inquiries, pull from the best of the knowledge from different types of disciplinary areas, like rehabilitation psychology, rehab counseling, industrial organizational psychology, special education, economics, statistics, math, we have had an environmental design, and, analysis colleague work with us as well as social work law and others. We have been able to get a wide variety of perspectives and understandings of both literature and methodologies in this, and critical to it has been that employers themselves have been our partners throughout this process, in the design of the research, in the shaping of the research questions as well as data gathering process and analyzing, looking at the outcomes and helping us to make sense to have a valid interpretation of what we were seeing. All very important part, we believe, of the validity of the findings.

I believe I talked about this, a variety of data sources. I didn't give you specifics about it, but the first bullet says national survey data. Indeed we drew from a wide variety of data sets, I believe nine total, the predominantly from the American community survey and the current population survey, but in this process, we have created and I'll talk a bit about that, with one of our resulting on-line tools, is a database that talks about what are the data sets that has employment data and disability data, as well as compensation data, that can inform our understanding of how people with disabilities are faring. We drew from administrative data and an example of that is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data, and I'll talk more about that in a moment.

As I mentioned, we have done a set of surveys and in depth case studies, and we also surveyed people with disabilities, family members and service providers, to make sure that we balance perspectives across the respective inquiries using some similar items and some separate items. I will in each of these cases share examples of how we have used those kinds of sources to find out more about what employers are doing, and the status of people with disabilities, and some specific findings.

I want to first mention a separate but related resource, because this is where we now archive some of these new data information, and that is that Cornell University has a website that we think is very useful for snapshot information about the status of people with disabilities, across a wide variety of topics, but we specifically focus most on employment, and it's at WWW.disabilitystatistics.org. On that website, if you have interest in your own state data, you will find a disability status report. We have just finished our 2017 effort, which uses 2015 data. We have a U.S. report that summarizes data across all states, as well as individual states status reports, for all the states plus districts of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Those of you who are trying to make the case about the importance of these issues will be able to get information that is pretty readily available, downloadable, by year. We encourage people to look at the most recent year but you can go back a number of years, because we have been doing this for a while now. And get information on your state or the national level to talk about the status of people with disabilities on employment, on education, on household income and poverty. Here are examples of those data, using, and how you can articulate the case for the need for attention, here is example of using employment rate and this employment rate is just on working age people, as the government usually defines it, and that is 21 to 64. This figure shows people with disabilities who are noted in red, approximately 35 percent of people with disabilities are employed compared to nondisabled peers who are employed at a rate of better than 78 percent which is a gap of 43 percent. This data taken from the American community survey and national bureau of labor statistics effort census bureau data is, makes, helps us to understand concretely the importance of focusing on employment issues for people with disabilities, because compared to their nondisabled peers they are obviously significantly underemployed, and unemployed. It's really important to pay attention to these issues.

Another compelling, I think, statistic, that comes out of these efforts, is what results when you have these kinds of disparities in employment, where the status of people with disabilities is concerned, it translates into a higher level of poverty rate with people with disabilities and a significantly lower median annual household income. In this example here, you see again in red and blue the red line in this figure shows that house holds with people with disabilities as an annual household income of $41,600 compared to people without disabilities. This is 2015 data which we have just calculated, compared to $65,900 for people without disabilities. That is a gap of over $24,000 a year.

Indeed, having employment disparities, significantly contributes to lower available resources within a household. It is a very important issue for us to be paying attention to. These are examples of status reports broadly and snapshot figures of the value of working with national survey data, that gathers information on the economic situation for people with disabilities, and compares that to the nondisabled peers. It gives us very concrete information at a state down to a local level of how people with disabilities are faring compared to others to help us make informed decisions about where to put energy in trying to make a difference in this area. We also can learn a lot from administrative data sets, which is data gathered by particular organizations, either federal agencies, state agencies, or it can be other organizations, not-for-profits as well. In our case, an example of a data set that we have found useful is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's employment discrimination charge data.

We have focus there because as many of you know, being people who provide information on the ADA, this is the enforcement organization, enforcement federal agency for title I or the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, so provides useful information for us to look at where people are perceiving discrimination, and coming forward and filing a charge. And in order for us to be able to do this, we as individuals have to have an inter-agency personnel act agreement, an IPA with the federal government, which gives us permission to use the data in a two-year period. Then we need to reapply. The data is carefully guarded. You have to make the case for what you would use it for and get permission to use it. We have access to charges across all statutes, not just employment, but also aging, gender, race, ethnicity, so that we can make comparisons with other kinds of discriminatory actions and how people are perceiving that. From 1993, which is the first year we have a full year of data, from the title I of the ADA, through 12014, and we will get additional data as time goes along. 2014.

In this data, we look at trends and charges. What happens over time, that is the benefit of having it across multiple years, are people perceiving different issues over time, or are different types of people, people with different types of disabilities, is there a perception and their willingness to file changing over time, and what are the particular issues and bases for those discrimination charges? We can also make comparisons to other forms of discrimination, because we have it across different types of laws.

Here are some examples of what we see.

Not surprisingly, because it's, once someone is in the workplace, they are more likely to be able to understand whether or not they are receiving differential treatment in a workplace, is that almost three out of five, 58.2 percent of the discrimination charges that are being filed on the, under the ADA, and this is from 2005, this is a ten year snapshot, to 2014, are being filed under the cause of, under the issue of discharge, followed by at 31 percent reasonable accommodation, one in five or 20 percent, terms and conditions. 15.4 percent, harassment. 10 percent, disciplinary areas. And less than 10 percent, hiring at 6.2 and then other, at 6.7.

I would say discharge is more often the highest across all of the other types of discrimination as well, but it's important for us to realize that it's not just getting in the front door, but it's also staying and not being differentially discharged from your job. It's really important to people with disabilities.

Another thing we can take a look at with this data is what the most common bases are or types of disabilities, and this figure shows us and again this is over a ten-year period, 2005 to 2014, that about 10 percent or 15, 16 if you go across the top two, have to do with orthopedic impairment, not surprising, since many times this comes along with the aging process, if it's something we experience earlier, and more than 10 percent if we combine the depression at 6, other, anxiety disorder at 4.4 in the mental health area -- anxiety disorder. Less, diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer which is less than 5, between 3 and 4.5 percent, but cumulatively about 10 percent. And sometimes these kinds of issues are higher preponderance as we age. We need to get out in front knowing how to effectively accommodate people with these types of disabilities. That is the approach we take when we talk to employers, to say here are things, here are areas, types of disabilities where people are perceiving that there is a problem in the way we are responding to them or approaching the accommodation process. So understanding how your jobs may impact these disabilities and knowing how to effectively accommodate is a really positive proactive way of approaching and getting out in front of potential issues.

Another value of this data for us, as I mentioned to you, is looking at changes that occur over time. Here is one example of that. This is five years worth of data, from 2005 to 2010, we were looking before and after the advents of the Americans with Disabilities Act amendments act -- advent. What we see is there has been a change over the five-year period, and in this case we were looking at because we thought it was very interesting, we were focused on non-obvious disabilities to see if people were feeling more confident in filing after the amendments acts. Indeed, whether that was the cause or not, we don't know, but we do see a gradual increase over that five-year period, and non-obvious disabilities, many of which, most of which, three out of five of which -- am I right? Four out of five which are mental health related disabilities, the highest being depression, next, cancer, third in prevalence, anxiety disorder, bipolar, manic depression and PTSD. Four out of five, non-obvious disabilities, all are showing an increase of willingness of people to come forward and to file a complaint.

This significantly relates as we mentioned as we started out this afternoon, to those companies and agencies that have targets for people with disabilities and are increasing their efforts to have people report that they have a disability, so they can count them in those numbers, to make their quotas, if people have non-obvious disabilities, they may come forward, and in that process, may experience discrimination.

This would tell us that we need to think about how we are encouraging people to come forward and whether or not we have an appropriate protocol in place where they feel safe to do so and whether we are responding appropriately to them when they do disclose and request accommodations.

I'm going to pause for a second and see, are there any near term questions that we need to respond to, Peter? Or should we go on?


I'm checking to see if we have any in the webinar room. You can submit questions in the chat area, as we go along, and if you don't have questions now, we can certainly revisit them at the end. Why don't you continue at this point.


I will, Peter. Thanks for checking for us.

I'm going to now pick up, we talked about where we have been informing our insights about employer practices and what is going on from both national survey data and administrative data and now I'd like to talk more about what we have learned from surveys, in-depth studies, focus groups, interviews, as I will mention again we have done this across the employment process, but I think it's well worthwhile talking about the specific categories that we have begun to look at, as we did this process, recruitment and hiring of course, accessibility and accommodation, retention and career advancement, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion and we have also learned more and we talked about the important role that the manager plays in disabilities inclusion, and also what are metrics in analytics that we can begin to encourage employers to consider gathering so that they have an understanding of how they are doing in this process.

I want to first mention another source of, important source and wonderful partner we have had over the years, this is, I'm going to give you the results of one survey but this is a third or fourth we have done over the past 20 years with the society for human resource management. If you are not aware of them, they are a wonderful representative of HR professionals' interests and helping people to keep the disciplinary area, this profession informed about all kinds of issues around the workplace. It is a large organization. At the time we worked with them there was approximately 250,000 members. There is now closer to 300,000. And they are a great source of information because they have representatives from across all kinds of industries and organizational sizes. As we drew our sample to get a litmus of what the perspectives of this membership organization's representatives thought about these issues, we stratified the sample so that we would get a good representation across the industries and organizational sizes, and we did both an on-line survey but also called people who had not responded to the on-line survey to get as big a sample as we could of respondents.

We asked questions about recruitment in hiring, accessibility and accommodation, retention and advancement, barriers, metrics and training. I'll skip across examples of what we found in each of those things, in the interest of time. But just to show you the kind of information we could get, we did this data collection five years ago, actually, it's taken us several years to analyze all the data, in a host of different ways since that time. And we got a 23 percent response rate. We had a total pool of respondents of close to 700- 662. Here is what we found. This first slide on this data, I'm going to share with you what the perceptions were of these respondents, 662 individuals, what they told us were barriers to employment or advancement from their perspective, as HR representatives for their respective companies, for people with disabilities.

Interestingly, the top three in numbers have to do with our preparation or the preparation of individuals with disabilities for the workforce.

I think any of us who work in that area would say indeed we could certainly do a better job of getting people the skills and experience they need. So it's lack of qualified applicants, two out of five told us was their biggest barrier to hiring people or advancing people with disabilities, followed by 35 percent, lack of related experience in the person, and 30 percent lack of requisite skills and training.

I think that tells us that we need both better public policy to infuse resources into areas of preparation for people with disabilities, it gets them tooled up for the contemporary workforce, but I think also, and further inquiry we understood that we don't know how much of this is perception as well. Part of it is adequate preparation and part of it is the eye of the beholder of our hiring managers and supervisors. We know that there is a perception there that people are not prepared, which we also need to work on. Approximately one out of four thought supervisor knowledge of accommodation as a barrier to employment or advancement. We need to do education of supervisors around these issues, where they can get resources and information they need when a request comes to them from someone whom they are supervising about an accommodation. One out of five said the cost of accommodation but interestingly that is getting lower now. About one out of six said attitudes and stereotypes within the workforce. So again this is an educational outreach issue that we could be working on. And employers themselves are working on.

-Far fewer, 13 percent said productivity and performance concerns around people with disabilities, and less than 10 percent said it was their concern about the additional cost of supervision or cost of training or even the attendance of people with disabilities.

That tells us something about where we need to educate people in workforces and provide supports and information when needed, which we thought was helpful.

So I have mentioned that we gathered information on recruitment hiring, retention, advancement, accessibility, and one of the things, so what you are going to see here, what I'm going to share with you, is, how HR professionals responded about what they are doing. We want to talk about is what they are doing going to make a difference? What is significant about learning about this?

Here is what we have found out, where recruitment and hiring is concerned we came up with a list of what we know to be good practices from the literature and from prior studies that have been done, put those in a checklist and asked our respondents, were they doing them, and to what degree.

And what was helpful.

And what we found is that three out of five indeed were putting people with disabilities in their diversity and inclusive, and inclusion plans, over half had relationships with community organizations, where they would try to proactively do recruitment of people with disabilities. 45 percent were doing active recruitment, self-identified as active recruitment. A little more than a third said they have strong senior management commitment, a little more than a quarter said they used tax incentives for hiring people with disabilities, one in four said that they had explicit goals for people with disabilities. Less than one in five, 19 percent, said that they had internships that were targeting people with disabilities within their organization for work experience. Less than that, 17 percent said that they included persons with disabilities in target goals in the management performance criteria of their managers.

So that is what these companies' representatives told us that they were doing. What we found out, we also asked them, had they hired in the last year and if they have been hiring, did they hire a person with a disability. What we found is these practices, being able to do these practices seemed to contribute positively to hiring people with disabilities, and certain practices seemed to have a higher probability that that would occur.

For example, internships was the most powerful predictor of whether or not a company would have hired a person with a disability, in the past year.

If a company had been doing that, it was six times more likely they would have hired, if they had internships. Five times more likely if they have strong senior management commitment, four times more likely they would have hired if they had explicit goals for targeted hiring for people with disabilities. Three times more likely to have hired a person with a disability if they were actively recruiting or had people with disabilities in their diversity and inclusion plans or had relationships with community organizations. This is very persuasive, to take this information to companies when they say, what can I do to increase the likelihood that we are going to be effectively able to attach people with disabilities to our workforce in the coming year. We can give them a list of what we know now heightens the likelihood of that occurring, which is persuasive and we can provide consultation on. We find this very useful information for employer consultation.


Can I ask you to mention the slide numbers?


Yes, I can certainly do that. I'm now on slide 28. My apologies for not catching that earlier. I know some of you are tracking me by having downloaded the slides. That was slide 28 where I cited this information. Go slide 29, I'm going to talk about what we found out, same survey, same group of informants, HR professionals, around accessibility and accommodation. Here again we had a list of good practices and we asked them what they were doing. We found out three out of four of them not surprisingly does have a designated office or person to address accommodation questions within their organization. A little less but still 71 percent have, allows a employee to exceed maximum duration of medical leave as an accommodation. About two-thirds has an established grievance procedure to address reasonable accommodation issues. A little more than two out of five have a written formal documented decision-making process for handling accommodations on a case by case basis. 39 percent, again about two out of five, provides advanced notice to job applicants that reasonable accommodations are provided during the job application process. About the same amount evaluates pre-employment occupational screenings to ensure that they are unbiased. A little more than a quarter regularly reviews the accessibility of on-line application systems to people with visual hearing finger dexterity or cognitive impairments and one in five has a centralized accommodations fund.

As you can see, a wide variation in terms of the proportion of companies that can self-report doing any of these good practices and yet we know the more they are doing them, the higher the likely that effective accommodation will occur.

We asked these folks to also rate in their mind what were the most effective of these policies. They told us interestingly because only less than one in five had them, that they felt that having a centralized accommodation fund was the most effective thing one could do, having a designated office or person to address accommodation questions also, very effective. And many of them did have them, three out of four have them. And also a formal process for provision of accommodations, and yet not all of them had them, although more than half did.

When working with employers and as they ask what can we do to more effectively accommodate, here are things we feel confident you can take to employers to tell them to focus on these areas, and it probably will help their accommodation process.

I'm going to move on now, and make sure we get these things covered, again, still from our survey with HR professionals, we ask them about relate evenings and advancement policies and practices -- retention, that would help to in their view help with retention and advancement of people with disabilities. We had a predetermined set of what were good policies from prior research and from the literature. We found out that three out of four have a return to work or disability management program for employees who are ill or injured, or somehow impacted by health related or disability related issue.

Not necessarily covered by the ADA, but they do have this return to work program. A little more than half has workplace flex policies and practices, that mean that a person can have flex time or part time work arrangements or work from home. Two out of five invite employees to confidentially disclose whether they have a disability, I now think there are certainly more because of the new provisions that have occurred in the last five years, but certainly at this time only two out of five were doing that. Less than one out of five has a structuring mentoring program to support employees with disabilities or offers special career planning or development tools for employees with disabilities, only 13 percent had a disability focused employee network or affinity group or resource group or had explicit organizational goals related to retention or advancement for people with disabilities. And less than 10 percent included progress toward retention or advancement goals for employees with disabilities in the performance expectations of their managers.

Again, we asked about their perceptions of how effective these were and even though as you just heard, many of these were at the lower end, a lot of companies weren't doing them, we also had the HR professionals telling us that these were important and indeed when done were very effective. Interestingly, although not many are doing it, having a disability focused employee network can be very helpful for retention and advancement. Having a return to work program, a disability management program, not surprisingly, three out of four have them. Flexible work arrangements and mentoring programs to support employees with disabilities, though not many had that. Here are things to help them think about how to be able to keep them more effectively.

Another thing that we are concerned about and interested in is helping companies to figure out how to assess their progress. We asked them about what they are currently measuring. We found out that not very many are currently tracking disability related metrics. Less than a third keep data on accommodations of any kind. Less than 30 percent keep information on the number of applicants hired. Less than that, 23 percent on the number of job applicants with disabilities that they have, less than one in five keep any statistics where disability is concerned on employee retention and advancement or on grievances from employees with disabilities, and less yet, 14 percent, and 11 percent data kept on compensation equity or turnover rates of employees with disabilities. Yet these help organizations, all of these, understand are they getting people in the front door and equitable proportion to what they want to hire? Are they making it through the interview processes and into the workforce? And once there, are they being equitably treated where compensation, advancement is concerned.

So really important to keep metrics. And important to get companies thinking about what metrics they could keep, and how they can build that into their already existing mechanisms, because many of them are keeping data on other types of protected populations.

It's getting them to do that also for people with disabilities. The next information I want to share with you is what we learned, when we did deeper dives into individual companies. We just talked about a across company survey we did with HR professionals. But now we want to talk about data that we gathered from different companies getting input from specific representatives across a number of companies and then deep dives into companies. We worked specifically with 7 working groups of employer representatives from HR, diversity and inclusion, EEO and others and in that we identified key issues promising policies and practices, and needed future training and tools. Some of this preceded the survey I just described and helped to inform the design of that survey and the categories that we selected to ask in the survey group. Some preceded and some were follow up to understand what we learned and what needed next steps were for information. Some of the things we found gathering data from these employers more directly, something that was very surprising to us, because we have always focused a lot on HR professionals and the role they play in minimizing disability workplace discrimination and maximizing inclusion, was employees with disabilities are at least 60 percent more likely to disclose their disability to their supervisor than to HR. That dramatically framed to us the importance of getting to supervisors and helping them be more adequately prepared to deal with these inquiries when they come.

Some of the things that we found, in these slides to follow I will give you more specific information but generally it's important to know that manage key to the quality of workplace experiences of all of us -- managers, but particularly of people with disabilities. Their perceptions of the organizational motivation for disability inclusion also is really important. It's far better if the manager perceives that disability inclusion and attention to accommodation is not just being done for regulatory compliance purposes, but because it's really in interest of the company, in the mission, in the fabric of the strategy of the company to be truly inclusive of all people, but including people with disabilities. That perception of the manager impacts the disability climate. It makes a difference in terms of the experience of the person with a disability.

We know that disability disclosure will therefore more often occur with manager and coworker rather than HR, and the education and training around disability disclosure is really important with this manager, if you are going to foster a truly inclusive workplace culture where people feel comfortable disclosing.

We found, however, sadly, that over 70 percent of the managers that we surveyed were unaware of whether in their company some of the practices were in place that we just talked about. We asked them across that some similar lists, a list is below there of ten items, what they knew about from their company, and their awareness was lowest for those disability practices in red, and I'll read those. Targeted recruiting of people with disabilities, they were not aware. Higher proportion of them were not aware of whether or not the companies had them, whether they had a centralized source of funding for accommodations and yet knowing that would mean that the manager would know that they have a place to go to get their accommodations, if they have someone inquiring. They were least likely to know about whether or not there was a formal written documented decision-making process for accommodation on a case by case basis. It is not likely that they would encourage people to access it or use it, apply it themselves, in the interaction with the individual with a disabilities. Less likely to know about regular review of the accessibility of their organization's job application systems. This one is more understandable n that they don't design those often, but it means that they may be oblivious to the fact that they are not getting candidates with disabilities because of company websites are inaccessible.

It is important that the company attend to that, and let people know that they are doing their best to try to get people in the front door.

They also were less likely to know whether there was hiring, training occurring to maximize utility of the hiring process, in terms of disability inclusion. They were not aware if that was occurring.

They probably had not themselves personally experienced it. So lots of need for education, many companies may have these resources, policies and practices, but certainly managers are not aware of them, in more cases than not. The range of lack of awareness was from 40 to 70 percent across all the organizations that we did case study surveys with.

We know, not only knowing about the practices but the perception of their efficacy is important. The managers, how they perceive the efficacy of the disability practices was positively associated with the employee's perceptions of the organization's commitment to disability related goals. It is not only important that the organization conveys to these supervisors that they have the resources, but that there is a sense of belief in how effective they are, that gets conveyed to the manager, and that impacts, permeates the experience of the individual and there a sense of whether or not these effective practices are really making a difference in the organization.

We know that employees are less likely to report experiencing bias or discrimination based on the disability when their managers, if the managers they work for are aware of their organization's disability policies and practices and believe they are effective. This relates back to the other data source I told you about, about workplace discrimination charges being filed. You can do a lot to mitigate that as a problem for organizations, if you really are not only creating the policies and practices, but sending the message that it's a strategic imperative to use them, it's a part of the diversity and inclusion imperative of the company, and that you are behind them and will help to make them effective. That makes a difference in the workplace culture.

We know that experiences for people with disabilities are much better in units that do some of the things we were just talking about. Individuals with disabilities who work in inclusive climates report significantly greater success at having their accommodation requests granted. Greater coworker support of their accommodations, better experiences of procedural and interactional justice, during accommodations, lower level of disability harassment and discrimination, and higher organizational commitment and satisfaction. This results in lower turnover rates. So everybody benefits when you try to put an inclusive disability inclusive workplace in place.

We know as I mentioned that experiences at the individual level for employees with disabilities are better when they have good relationships, not surprisingly, with their managers. When individuals experience themselves as being a part of the in group for their managers rather than discriminated against, they experience, they report having a higher fit between their skills and the demands of the job, so there is more attention being paid to get them in the right job, that is set up with their skills. They feel a higher sense of empowerment. They report fairer treatment during the accommodation process. They also report a higher organizational commitment, satisfaction and willingness to engage in what we call the citizenship behaviors, always going above and beyond the requirements of the job to contribute to the organization. Then again that means lower turnover rates for their employees with disabilities.

I want to mention that, although in that, in the surveys, these were organizational surveys where we got the data from people with disabilities, we also made a concerted effort to go out and just recruit from a much broader public of people with disabilities about perceptions on select things, the err dive yet here -- deeper dive yet here and we did that by working in collaboration with the American Association of People With Disabilities and SAMHSA, government organization focused on mental health. We did a on-line survey and recruited people by using social media and newsletter announcements of these in other related disability organizations.

Here is what we found. We asked people what would make a difference. We were doing a drill down on workplace climate for disability inclusion. What would make a difference, making you feel comfortable and disclosing your disability since there are now employers who have a vested interest in helping individuals, employees, applicants do so. We found out that more than two-thirds said if they needed an accommodation, and this was about 600 people who we had as respondents of people with disabilities. Two-thirds said better than two-thirds said if they needed an accommodation they would come forward. Three out of five, a little better than that, said if they had a supportive supervisor relationship, a little more than half said if they saw a disability friendly workplace, knew of active disability recruiting by their organization, knowing of other successes when somebody came forward and disclosed within their organization, about half said that. A little less than half said disability, they saw disability in the diversity statement, and two out of five said they would come forward if they had a belief that there would be new opportunities for them in their workplace if they chose to disclose.

We also asked them since these are things that would facilitate disclosure, were there things in their work environment that would impede that. What we found indeed there was. Three out of four said they wouldn't come forward because they had a fear of a risk of being fired or not hired. Two-thirds said they were concerned that the employer might focus on the disability, or they had a risk of losing their healthcare, a fear of limited opportunities, about three out of five said they were concerned that the supervisor may not be supportive. A little more than half said they were concerned about a risk of being treated or viewed differently by the people around them if they disclosed, about two out of five, 44 percent said they wouldn't come forward because they didn't believe it had any impact on their job ability, advancement, if they disclosed. A little more than a quarter said a desire for privacy. That was interestingly the least important reason for, reasons for people not to disclose within that category.

With that, I want to move and we will make time for questions again with help from our moderator, summarizing across all these different data sources and different data gathering methodologies that I just mentioned, and different informants, what I believe are things to keep in view as you move forward, either as an employer, if you are an employer representative on this event today, or if you are providing consultation services to employers.

First of all, it is really important to have top leadership commitment. If nothing else, it's important that the message gets sent from the top that people with disabilities are a clear priority, and that they are wanted in the organization, and that there will be an affirmative effort to do so, and minimizing barriers is an imperative, whether it be access to a website that is accessible, or it's informing your hiring managers that needs to be evident in the organization. It is important, although the message needs to come from the top, that middle management is also mobilized in that effort, and that people with disabilities are in those positions, in leadership and in middle management positions so that they can reinforce that by their, not only their voice but by their role modeling and behavior.

Next it's important to assign responsibility. Somebody needs to be in charge of this initiative, this strategy. It's across the board in terms of many of the policies and practices we talked about. It needs to be in charge of attracting and once in the workforce, of engaging and advancing people with disabilities. Someone needs to have their eye on the ball, even though that is a disperse responsibility across often supervisors and middle managers, it's important that someone is paying attention to the metrics and analytics being kept, and how the organization is doing.

Next, it's important to find a partner, someone to help you get the qualify candidates in the pipeline, in your applicant pool. That can be a state vocational rehabilitation agency or some other not-for-profit local area community service provider or might be a profit provider as well, but someone who is a conduit for you as a business organization in getting the candidates that you need.

Other good practices, establishing as we mentioned employee resource groups, business groups. This is a way to identify leaders with and without disabilities who have an interest in disability area, and then it's an opportunity to create partnerships across units, within units, and across other interests, so it might be an employee resource group on disability, but that could be aligned with a diversity group as well, or it might be the technology group, there is a whole host of ways of infusing disability into other special resource groups, when you have that energy coalesced and they can also help with targeted initiatives, like conducting accessibility audits or get involved in recruiting and all of that can be very helpful of moving this agenda along of a wide variety of tasks or activities.

Making managers accountable, we talked about it's important that disability goals, diversity goals with a disability focus are embedded in the performance plans for managers and supervisors.

Finally, it's important to measure for understanding and results, what do people understand about disability in your climate surveys, that is one place to embed it, but also getting input through your employee resource groups, another litmus.

I think specifically two more items. I'm forgetting how many I had. Make it safe to self-identify. We talked about what are the practices that impede or facilitate. Most employees with disabilities are not, may not be obvious or unidentified or become disabled post hire, so it won't be necessarily at the front end that you would have asked them that question. It's important to make disclosure safe and provide reasons for people to disclose, like offering flexible work options or access to accommodations if they do.

In summary, if you are providing consultation to business or you are a business yourself, be knowledgeable about the regulations that are influencing employer interest in disability hiring. We talked about a couple. Many colleagues who are on this call today and this webinar today are knowledgeable in that area. There are certainly excellent resources out there, to provide information on that. It's important that we educate ourselves so that we can respond appropriately. And be aware that there are specific workplace policies and practices that enhance recruitment hiring, career advancement, retention and disability inclusion. And if used they will provide the kinds of outcomes, enhanced outcomes that both businesses and we as consultants the businesses are looking for. It's important to become equipped, to talk about issues beyond just people getting in the front door, such as top leadership commitment, meaningful disability inclusion and the importance of managers' roles in minimizing perceived discrimination. And it's important to therefore become knowledgeable about ways that companies can measure the disability inclusion process, once they progress, once they have these different policies and practices in place.

We have designed an on-line tool, I'm going to mention, that helps companies to do that. It's called benchmark ability, can be reached at that URL- WWW.benchmarkability.org.

It's a 90-item on-line tool, that will provide, available at no cost, across these areas that we discussed today, recruitment and hiring, diversity and inclusion, career development and retention, accessibility and accommodation, compensation and benefits, and metrics and analytics. All the items we talked about, there are items to help companies self assess how they are doing. If you are a consultant and not a company, it could be a way, if that company does that, for you to sit down and talk about what are things, resources you might have to support them if there are areas that they feel that they need to do better in, would like to strengthen in some way.

I also have provided in this Power Point, which our colleagues at the Great Lakes ADA center can provide you, if you don't have it directly, a list of related publications, many of which are available, they are open source, available on-line. There are two slides providing that, and then a slide that will give you the links to some of these on-line resources that we have designed. I've mentioned the benchmark ability tool, I mentioned disability statistics. We also have a code book on those different national census data surveys that have disability variables. We also have created an on-line tool that provides state specific data on disability charges that so you can take a look at how your state is doing on these U.S. EEOC discrimination charges.

We have a repository of related publications, several hundred of them, also linked to our specific project, where we have many research briefs and videos from a state of the science project conference that we had several years ago. So lots of free resources on-line for you to go to.

Now, I see that our colleague has given a prompt about being able to submit questions. Peter, I'll turn it over to you to let us know if we have any questions waiting in the queue we need to immediately respond to.


As you mentioned, for those of you in the webinar room, you can submit your questions in the chat area by clicking on the chat area, or if you are using assistive technology, you can submit your question in there as well. For those of you on the telephone, I'm going to ask heather to rejoin us at this time to give instructions for phone participants on how they can get in the queue to ask a question. Heather?


Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time, please press the star and the number 1 key on your touch-tone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove yourself from the queue, press the pound key. Star 1 to ask a question.


While we are waiting to see if we have any questions on the telephone, we have gotten questions in the chat area. To start out with, this one, you touched on this, but for an employer that, whether it's a federal contractor, that has an obligation, the targeted 7 percent, to have some percent of the workforce be persons with disabilities or it's a private employer who wants to see how well they are doing in attracting and hiring and retaining employees, from a employer's perspective, how can they sell a benefit to employees, those employees that don't have visible disabilities, how do they sell to their employees to self-identify so employers can get a handle on it, get an understanding of what, how much of their workforce is actually comprised of people with disabilities?


I would say, you know, there are a number of practices that help to do that. I would say broadly there are two things they can do. One is, send the message throughout everything they do that people with disabilities are wanted. What we have heard people say is if they see disabilities in the diversity statement, if they see their company actively recruiting people with disabilities, whether it be partnerships with community agencies or training recruiters to be more aware of how to minimize discrimination in that process, when they see that, it says to them that people with disabilities are embraced or wanted in that workforce.

It makes people more confident when they are already in that workplace that they can come forward. That is one set of policies and practices, consistent sending of a message about disability inclusion.

The other is understanding and conveying how the individual will be advantaged as an individual by coming forward, and that might be having targeted mentoring programs for people with disabilities, or making sure that they are included in the mentoring process you may already have, making sure that equitable access occurs, making sure that equitable access occurs for training or stretch assignments or other opportunities, and letting people know that you really want, articulating that you want people who might have a disability who have a disability to know that if they want advancement, that if they are willing to come forward, you will work with them on accommodation, and on advancement plan with them, so that they are strategically advantaged if they make that disclosure.

Big picture, making sure that you send that message consistently about disability as a part of diversity and inclusion and the overall business imperative or strategy. Secondly, that individuals will get an opportunity to advance if they disclose whether it be just accommodations that they might need but also an opportunity for mentoring and professional development training that will be a part of the strategy of the organization to assist folks who might not otherwise get that opportunities.


Thanks, Susan. In a tie up to the follow-up question, your work in this arena, are you seeing that employers are understanding the real benefits to outreach, hire, retain employees with disabilities, and not looking at it from the perspective of we have these new Department of Labor rules for federal contractors that we have to have a target of 7 percent, or are employers coming around and understanding the real benefits that disability really adds to diversity and benefits employers on many different levels.


You know, I can sincerely say I do believe that that is happening. It doesn't mean that we don't have lots more work to do, and it doesn't mean that the new regulations haven't been helpful. I think that spurs external spurs, contextual spurs like that, do put things back up on the fore front for us. That has been a opportunities. But I see employers genuinely trying to respond because of those requirements but also because they feel it's the right thing to do, and in an economy that is coming back, we need workers. The practicality of also a stronger economy right now is, I think, also emboldening companies to say I want to give this a try. There is a reason to do so regulatory-wise, but also we feel more confident. We have had more opportunity to get exposure. We feel this is something we can do.

I do think we are poised to be able to take advantage of all of these contextual reasons that I think are driving the door open for us to have more empowered conversations, either as internal advocates within businesses or those of us who are in the disability community and providing services to businesses.


One more to that question, the economy is improving, following what we had seen happen back in 2008, we had seen this flowing of individuals within the baby boom generation slow down and those individuals retiring and individuals working later in life and not retiring at 65, and we hear people talk about this untapped pool of people with disabilities from a larger perspective. Our employments systems, VR systems, working with employers in identifying the skill sets, and who are the employees that they are going to need in 2020, 2030, 2040 and beyond, so are the employment systems understanding from employers the skill sets that, in general, employees of the future are going to need, but in specific, individuals with disabilities?


I think we can always do a better job. I think certainly some workforce development centers, many community colleges, are working in close partnership with employers in their area, and with workforce development, and doing a really good job of not only preparing the workforce more generally, but also targeting previously socioeconomically disadvantaged groups including people with disabilities. And there are many that are not doing as good a job. We have an understanding that we need to do better, and I wouldn't say that we are doing so across the board, but I do think that there is an understanding that we need to do that.

Some examples of that are, in the last two years there have been White House initiatives to improve technology skills of the general workforce, but for people who need to get into the workforce and there were specific initiatives for people with disabilities. I think the understanding is there. I think we need communities to combine the interests of employers, educators and local workforce development organizations to make sure that we really keep refining our understanding of what is needed, because those skills and those workplaces keep changing. So keeping out in front of them is a challenge. But it's imperative.


Excellent. Someone in the chat area, and we will check with Heather in a minute here, wanted to get a question out, wanted a clarification on what you mean by strong senior management commitment.


Well, you know, a simple answer is that the top of the organization, the CEO says, as clearly as this, that including people with disabilities is a part of our strategic imperative, we want a diverse workforce, that capitalizes on all the skills and talents of Americans, and that includes people with disabilities, and that will be a part of our targeted diversity plan going forward, and we need everyone's help to make that happen. We need you as a labor force within our organization to help identify qualified candidates. If you are a supervisor or recruiter, that you help to see their talents, and not differentially discriminate against them, and that once they are in, you help them to thrive, not just survive within our organization. That message gets articulated verbally, and in this strategic plan and imperative and in performance appraisals of managers and people who are supposed to execute it.


One more question, before we get to the phones. Someone in the chat area in the webinar room asked about, you mentioned internships as a good way for folks to get, for businesses, employers to attract individuals with disabilities. Someone wanted to know are there successful practices within private sector of getting employers to have those internship programs, where individuals with disabilities can get in at that level.


Absolutely. I think many, many employers have had long standing internship programs for, and partnerships with preferred educational institutions where they would take interns for the summer, and some of them are making those targeted to include people with disabilities. Many employers have found this long ago, and learned that this was an effective way to recruit, a low risk way to try all kinds of talent out in the summer or for a semester, or might be longer, for a year, but also to not only try out individuals with disabilities, that they might have been more hesitant to hire but also to inform their supervisors and to give them an opportunity to understand that some of their fears are unfound, concerns about competency and qualifications can be transcended, within an understanding that exposure brings, and that they also may mitigate their fears around being able to know what to do when they have an employee with a disability. So it is occurring, it is occurring in greater proportion among organizations and we have seen terrific results when that does happen.


Heather, do we have any questions from phone participants at this time?


There are no questions over the phone lines.


Excellent. We have a few more to go through, that have come through in the webinar room. Someone asking about the statistics that you had used, the age range was 21 to 64. This person asks, would the big push for youth transition, do these statistics also apply to youth employment, or is that too new of a topic to have data yet?


Is the question, are youth employment more general and how whether those are improving or not? Is that the question, Peter?


I think they are asking, do the data that you presented, 21 to 64, whether if there is any data out there, 16 to 20 or is it too early to have any, is there any data in that area, and whether that youth data would mirror what you had presented for the 21 to 64.


That is an excellent question. There is data. The national survey does collect data for younger cohort. The reason why we don't present it is because often youth in the 16 to 21-year-old age group are still in the educational process, and not in the workforce. We were trying to get a litmus of comparisons of people with and without disability that had, was more people would be beyond the school age years, and we truly would be getting a test of the workforce participation rates, rather than that cohort that might be not in the workforce, not because of discrimination or a lack of opportunity but because they were otherwise engaged. We made that choice. But the data is available. I think you can choose to go down to 16 on our website but the census does have that data, and if you have a question about that, you can send me an E-mail. My E-mail is on the first page or second page of the slides, from the point of the slide deck. You can send me a E-mail. I'll pass it on to our disability statistics person who can respond with more precision to that question. But the data is available, yes.


Excellent. We are almost at the bottom of the hour one last quick question. Someone asked for a clarification, what does procedural and interactional justice mean?


It's a great question. It means two different experiences we have, two ways of looking at whether or not we are in a fair environments. One is does the environment have clearly laid out protocols for how things get decided and done, that is procedural justice.

Does it appear in general that the company has clearly articulated goals for how people, objectives, policies and procedures for how people get into the workforce and how they advance, or is it done kind of subjectively, and idiosyncratically which might not be perceived as procedurally fair. Internationally just, means that a supervisor applies the same kind of decision-making across each of the individuals that they work with. Interaction-wise there is not a bias occurring, either because the policies and procedures are clear, but also because that individual tries hard to be objective about applying those to each person he can equitably.


Excellent. We have reached the bottom of the hour. Or next ADA audio conference session will take place on March 21. And that is titled, structured negotiation a tool for disabilities rights. You can get information on registration for that session as well as access to all the archived sessions by visiting WWW.ADA-audio.org. Or if you have questions, you can call 877-232-1990.

I want to thank Susan for joining us today. It is always a joy to listen to you present. Not just for the 90 plus minutes that you spent with us today but the time that you put in getting together today's presentation. Thank you for joining us. Thank you to everyone that participated today. The reason we do these sessions, please take time to do the evaluation and let us know your thoughts on today's presentation and the audio conference in general. Again, thank you very much, Susan. Thank you all for attending today. That is the end of today's session. Everyone, have a great day. Thank you and good-bye.