National Organization on Disability issues statement regarding U.S. Dept. Of labor rule change for federal contractors hiring people with disabilities.
National Organization on Disability President Carol Glazer today issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) approval of a rule change to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to take concrete steps to recruit and include individuals with disabilities in their workforce. Glazer also commented on changes to the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). Vice President Joe Biden made both announcements this afternoon during an address to The American Legion in Houston, Texas.
"We applaud the Obama administration for elevating employment of people with disabilities - the nation's largest minority group, which includes a growing number of veterans - to the level of women and racial and ethnic minorities," said Glazer. "I feel confident in saying that the hurdles for employers will not be a difficult threshold. And there are many organizations in the disability field who stand prepared to help companies meet these goals.
"Among the requirements is for federal contractors to set a hiring goal of having seven percent of their employees be workers with disabilities and to establish annual hiring benchmarks for veterans. Many of the employers NOD works with, most of whom are federal contractors, have set their disability hiring goals in certain locales at 10 percent. Moreover, according to a recent Harris survey we conducted in partnership with the Kessler Foundation, the great majority of employers report that an average of three percent of their workforces already consist of people with disabilities. And that's probably an underestimation because employers aren't routinely tracking the statistic - but they should be. And with the rule change in effect, they will.
"The harsh reality is that nearly eight in ten working-age Americans with disabilities are unemployed. Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, this statistic is simply unacceptable; and it demonstrates the fact that preventing discrimination and incentivizing hiring are not one in the same. I'm encouraged by the notion that the work of recruiting this largely untapped talent pool on a larger scale can truly begin, and I think that American industry can benefit from the considerable talents that people with disabilities possess. A diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities and veterans makes good business sense. I've seen companies do this successfully when they make it a priority, and NOD stands at the ready to assist those businesses that need help."
Glazer noted that through NOD's landmark Bridges to Business program, NOD staff work with companies through the entire employment life-cycle. NOD reviews company HR and accommodations policies and procedures and recommends improvements; sets hiring targets and tracks results; trains managers; connects companies with sourcing agencies and the Vocational Rehabilitation system; and supports and monitors progress toward goals. And through its Wounded Warrior Careers program, NOD has helped hundreds of the most seriously injured veterans transition to civilian careers.
Glazer also recognized the federal government's leadership as a model employer of people with disabilities. "Thanks to President Obama's executive order to hire 100,000 new federal workers with disabilities over five years - which is advancing promising practices and delivering real results - the federal government is already walking the talk."
For more information on the National Organization on Disability, visit www.nod.org