Meeting in a Box: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

September 26, 2013 5:36 pm

Meeting in a Box: Disability Employment Awareness MonthThis Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to ALL your employees. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the perfect time to increase your entire company’s awareness of the underutilized talent potential of people with disabilities, the variety of disabilities, the most successful way to on-board people with disabilities at your company, and the culturally competency way to recruit, retain, engage and promote this increasing demographic.

We are supplying a Historic Timeline of legislation and events impacting the progress of people with disabilities and their achievements in the United States; Facts & Figures demonstrating educational progress and continued employment and income inequities, plus successful people with disabilities in government, education, business, sports and entertainment; and our cultural-competence series “Things NOT to Say” focusing on people with disabilities. This information should be distributed to your entire workforce and also should be used by your people-with-disabilities-and-allies resource group both internally and externally as a year-round  a plan of action on how to address offensive language.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

1. Historic Timeline

We recommend you start your employees’ cultural-competence lesson on people with disabilities by using this Historic Timeline, which documents individual achievements of people with a variety of disabilities plus legislation, including the Americans With Disabilities Act, that changed their legal opportunities for equality.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What is the variety of disabilities applicable under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Why has it been so difficult for people with disabilities to achieve leadership positions?
Discuss the different experiences of people with different types of disabilities. Explain how hidden disabilities can be even more difficult to address when there are inequities.

How has your workplace changed its perception, accommodation and treatment of people with disabilities? Is this enough?

Why are “firsts” important to note? What other barrier breakers have you witnessed in your lifetime?
This is a personal discussion designed to help the employee note other barrier breakers historically. This discussion can be further explored after the Facts & Figures section below is discussed.

Disability Employment Awareness Month Timeline


2. Facts & Figures

After discussion of the Timeline, the next step is to review available data and understand how and why hiring people with disabilities impacts our business.

The data we have chosen to present here represents information of relevance to corporate America, such as education (available labor pool), employment and The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities. That list was selected based on answers to questions on the DiversityInc Top 50 survey about accommodations, recruitment outreach, onboarding, talent development and resource groups for people with disabilities.

Discussion Questions for Employees

As Baby Boomers retire, the need for skilled workers in the United States is intensifying. The disabilities population is an untapped resource yet many companies shy away from this group.
How can your company—and you personally—create more awareness of the value of reaching out to the disability community? How can your company—and you personally—mentor and teach people with disabilities, especially those still in school?

How can your disabilities resource group help both find and on-board people with disabilities and help educate managers and the workforce about cultural competence?

How critical is it to have role models in an organization?
And if you agree it is, how do you encourage people with disabilities, especially hidden disabilities, to self-identify? What are the benefits of a corporate culture where people can be free to bring their whole selves to work?

Disability Employment Awareness Month Facts & Figures


3. Nine Things NEVER to Say to People With Disabilities

Our popular “Things NOT to Say” series includes interviews with people with disabilities about offensive phrases they’ve heard in the workplace and how best to respond to them to further cultural-competence education.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What other phrases have you heard addressed to people with disabilities that were condescending or offensive?
Discuss how these phrases and stereotypes impact office morale and productivity. For more information on this topic, go to and

What role do you think the company should play when offensive comments occur?
Have the employees talk about under what circumstances they would report offensive comments and what they believe the company should do. Get advice from DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti at

After today’s lesson, what would you do if you overheard a colleague make one of these comments?
Continue the discussion with each employee having a plan of action on how to address offensive language.

Disability Employment Awareness Month Things NOT to Say


[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]