ANNOUNCER: The following is a presentation of the ILR School at Cornell University. ILR-- advancing the world of work.
HARRY C. KATZ: Welcome to another ILR online webcast, coming to you from the Cornell campus here in Ithaca. This webcast is part of a special anniversary series that's celebrating Cornell's 150 year and the 70th year of the ILR School. The anniversary series will focus on issues related to the workplace.
In this first webcast, we address issues related to people with disabilities. We do so in part because October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. We also focus on those issues because we have great strength in the ILR School in the form of the Employment and Disability Institute. That Institute conducts terrific research, teaching, and outreach.
I hope you enjoy this webcast and will also join us for others in this series. Thank you.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Hello. My name is Suzanne Bruyere, and I am the Associate Dean of Outreach, Professor of Disability Studies, and Director of the Employment and Disability Institute in the ILR School. I'm pleased to welcome you here today to our ILR online webcast, which is focused on the workplace and people with disabilities past, present, and future.
With me here today in the ILR studio is Lisa Nishii, Professor of Human Resource Studies and my collaborator on research we're doing on effective workplace practices and people with disabilities, which you'll hear more about later today.
LISA NISHII: Hello, everybody. Welcome to our webcast.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: We'd like to start our session today with a poll. There are new regulations that have been put out by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that will cover federal subcontractors. And we'd like to ask our audience to take a poll and tell us what you think is the percentage of employees in the United States today who are employed by federal subcontractors.
You can take this poll by clicking on an icon that looks like a pie chart underneath at the bottom of the frame that you're working with. And it's right next to the question icon. We'd like to have you do that poll right now, so we can come back to the results as quickly as we possibly can.
While you're taking the poll, we are going to move along to getting insights from one of our contributors. We're going to be joined today by several national leaders from federal agencies who contribute to employment and disability policy. And the first of these is Judy Heumann, who is a special advisor for International Disability Rights in the US Department of State.
Judy has been a key figure in the Disability Rights movement since very early on. And so we think it's very fitting to have insights from Judy to talk about the historical background of what has led up to this modern day legislation and the experience of people with disabilities preceding this regulatory framework.
JUDITH HEUMANN: I'm 67 years old. I was born in 1947. And it's important to reflect on what was not happening at that time.
So basically, this was before there were any major federal pieces of legislation. Outside of legislation addressing disabled veterans, there was very little having to do with civilians. And we had very weak laws so that there were many disabled children not in school. Unemployment was-- there was no data being collected on it. There was no accessibility.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Streets were not accessible, transportation wasn't accessible, and equality was definitely not the framework that people were discussing. Things were really focusing on hearing disabilities.
So what has occurred over the last 60, 70 years has really been a dramatic change in the way disabled people ourselves look at ourselves, and in the way society in the United States, and quite frankly around the world, has also been changing. So we've moved away from a medical model, which really focused on the issue of cure, to a rights based model, which has really resulted in the United States and many other countries a transformation of our infrastructure, greater opportunities for disabled children to participate in early childhood, primary secondary education, increasing number of individuals going on to universities, and increasing numbers of disabled individuals, albeit still too small, moving into the world of work.
Society has begun to change its view in many countries towards looking at disabled people as being able to make meaningful contributions, as opposed to people who need to be receiving benefits because we're unable to contribute. And I really believe that these changes have, quite frankly, been the result of disabled people in the US and around the world learning from other rights-based movements, like the Civil Rights movement, the women's movement, and the aging movement in the United States, to recognize that we're no different than any other minority, and we need to speak for ourselves. And taking our voices on and creating a vision for the types of legislation we wanted to see passed by the Congress, and state governments, and local governments, has resulted in the changes we are living in today.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Welcome back. And the first thing I'd like to do is to go back to the poll that you took before the video clip from Judy Heumann and let you know the responses. We had 14% of you who felt it was 10%, 56% felt 25%. And we had 20% said 50%, and 11% said 75%. And indeed, the answer is that approximately 1/4 of the US workforce will be covered under these new regulations, because they're employees of federal subcontractors.
We're going to be coming back to provide more information about Section 503 and these regulations later on in our program, but right now we'd like to continue on with our theme of past, present, and future for people with disabilities in the workforce with insights from Seth Harris, the former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of State.
SETH HARRIS: I think we've largely moved past that moment where we view people with disabilities as unproductive people who have to be cared for, although that still persists in our society. And we still have the Social Security Disability system, which is necessary for a lot of people who can't work. But many to many people who could work, who could stay in the workplace, who could be productive, are going onto social security disability because they haven't found a way to succeed in the labor market, and their employers are not helping them enough to succeed in the workplace. So there are a lot of structures that existed with a different approach to disability that have persisted into the modern era. We need to reform a lot of those structures so that we're focused on people with disabilities being held to a high expectation, being allowed to succeed, use their talents as fully as they need to, and to support themselves in the economy.
The principle law that governs disability rights in public schools is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and it doesn't work very well. It's very difficult for districts to administer. Parents are put in a position of having to get into ongoing dialogues with administrators and teachers, often without knowing exactly what's necessary for their kids. We need to rethink the system of disability education. We need to think differently about how kids acquire information and education.
We really need to think differently about the way we educate children. We need to think differently about how kids with disabilities are mainstreamed and included in classes with kids who are going to hold them to a high level of expectation. One of the biggest problems that people with disabilities in America face is they're not expected to achieve. They're not expected to succeed.
Physical infrastructure is a meaningful barrier for people with disabilities. You know, you can't do a job unless you can find a way to get to work. If you can't get into the New York City subway system or the Chicago L or the Boston T, you can't get to work, you know? It's a challenge that people with disabilities face, certain people with disabilities face, that people who don't have those disabilities don't face. And it's an added barrier, an added struggle that they have to undertake.
So that's a big challenge, but the cost of a lot of this stuff is going to be huge and complicated. And we now have systems in our society, the internet and other systems, that allow us to telecommute and to work from remote locations. This idea that everybody's got to get gathered up in a big concrete building in the middle of Manhattan to do their jobs is sort of an outdated idea.
I often telecommute, both to Cornell and to my other jobs. There are a lot of people around the world who could easily telecommute. We have to ask ourselves not just the question, how do we break down physical barriers, but how do we break down the way we do business so that barriers that are inherent in physical structures are no longer barriers? We can jump over the barrier, rather than trying to break it down.
A lot of people with disabilities acquire the disabilities while they're working. So what employers should be asking themselves, particularly as their workforces are aging and are more likely to have a disability is, what can I do to help that guy to succeed? What tool can I give him? What technology can I give him? What kind of office arrangement can I give him? How can I design his job? How can I assure family and medical leave so that that person can succeed? If they took that attitude towards the people who acquire disability, then I think their attitude to those who arrive with a disability would significantly improve.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Welcome back. And Lisa, Seth makes some excellent points about attitudinal barriers and physical barriers for people with disabilities. So I think it's a good part in our program to start talking about the research we've collaborated on that looks at bias in the workplace, specifically with a look for people with disabilities.
Before we get started though, I'd like to acknowledge the funding agency for this collaborative research, and that's the US Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. It's all yours, Lisa.
LISA NISHII: OK, great. So the research that we'll be talking a little bit about today is based on data that we collected from two organizations-- one federal agency and one private organization. And across the two of them, we collected data from about 3,000 employees of whom about 1/4 reported having at least one disability. In this research, we collected data both from employees and their managers so that we could get a sense for the role that managers play in shaping the experiences of the employees with disabilities who work for them. In some of our other research funded by NIDR, we've been looking at more formal discrimination charges, EEOC charges. But in this research, we are focused on more subtle forms of disability-related bias that people experience in the workplace.
As you can see from the questions here on the screen, we were interested in knowing about whether or not people with disabilities feel that they're socially isolated, or unfairly singled out, or perhaps have information that they need withheld from them because of their disability. And the good news is only about 10% or so of respondents indicated that they do experience this kind of bias.
We were then motivated to try to understand, well, what are the conditions that influence whether or not people with disabilities are likely to experience these forms of bias? And what we found is that there are a number of categories of factors that matter. And probably the most important among them are climates factors and interpersonal relationships. So we found that employees with disabilities who work in work groups or departments that have an inclusive climate are less likely to experience bias. And when employees in their work group overall perceive the organization to be committed to disability issues, they experience less bias.
We also found that sometimes employees with disabilities are protected, so to speak, from bias. And that's when they have a high-quality relationship with their immediate manager and also when they have a mentor within the organization that is helping to provide various forms of advice to them. We also found that job factors matter. As you'll see in the middle category here, when employees with disabilities are provided with the attention, the performance feedback, and socialization that they need to perform well on their jobs, they're less likely to experience bias from their co-workers.
We also found that disability-related factors matter. So employees who have neurological or cognitive disabilities or mental, psychological disabilities tend to experience higher forms of bias. And we also found that employees who experience disability onset after already working for their current supervisor were protected in some ways in that they experience lower levels of bias.
So now, we're going to turn it over to a video from Jennifer Sheehy, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability and Employment Policy of the Department of Labor. And in this video, she's going to talk to us about the ways in which the federal government has been supporting organizations as they implement various policies to try to mitigate these kinds of biases within the workplace for employees with disabilities.
JENNIFER SHEEHY: We started with focusing on access and really physical access and integration. And then we evolved to a stage where we thought it wasn't just enough to have integration, let's say in schools, but it had to be community participation, and not just being there but really actively participating. And then policies really took a next step to require that integration.
So you have the Homestead Act, which really caused the deinstitutionalization of people with significant disabilities and making sure that public funding supports people in the community, as opposed to in institutions and segregated. Then you started seeing technology, and you started seeing policies that really promoted assistive technology, so add-on pieces. And that evolved to accessible technology or more universal design.
And we had policies that supported supports for employment of people with disabilities and really focused on service provision and the people with disabilities. And then you realized that you needed to look at the demand side. So we had policies that focused on employers, supporting employers and really thinking about employers as a customer, and what kind of policies would be incentives for employers? That created some of the tax policy that really was supposed to facilitate employment of people with disabilities. But some of those weren't as successful, so then you started seeing market-driven policies focused on employers.
We know that a business doesn't necessarily want to hear from the federal government. So we want to support what private industry is doing. We know there are champion business organizations and companies out there that are doing a great job with employment of people with disabilities and encouraging their members or their industry colleagues to adopt some of these effective practices and policies.
So what can we do as the government support that? I mean, we can certainly test those policies. We can test the effective practices. We can validate them so that business, or organizations, or companies, can adopt them and show that they're successful. And then their business and industry colleagues learn from that.
One of the things that companies can do and people within companies can do to promote the hiring of individuals with disabilities is look at their diversity agenda. So we think that the companies that are already doing something and value diversity for people from minority backgrounds, or LGBT communities, or other communities, they're ready to take on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the company too and really make sure that disability is part of that diversity agenda, not an afterthought. And it's got to be front and center. It's got to be day one, the diversity training, not day three, if you have time and as an optional thing.
It's not difficult. And as Mark Twain said, the secret to getting ahead is getting started. So if you can get started with an internship program, or the senior commitment, or marketing materials, or [INAUDIBLE] then you're on your way to better employment of people with disabilities throughout the company.
LISA NISHII: Assistant Secretary Sheehy just talked about the importance of disability policies and practices that are meant to help improve the workplace outcomes for people with disabilities. And a lot of the organizations that we have partnered with in our research are organizations that have a lot of these policies in place. But what we were surprised to find in some of our earlier research funded by ODEP was that, even in the organizations that have a lot of these very progressive practices in place, the majority of managers tend to be unaware that these policies are actually in place within their organization. So in this current research, one of the things we wanted to do was delve into this issue a little bit further. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about these results.
What we found was that, once again, the majority of managers tend to be unaware about various disability policies and practices in place within their organization. And for a lot of the practices that we asked about, up to 70% of managers were unaware. The practices that appear in red are the ones about which managers were most unaware. And we think that this is really important because, obviously, managers can't utilize a particular practice if they don't know about it. So awareness is the first step.
On this slide here, you'll see much of the same kind of story. We also asked about whether or not managers had utilized a variety of resources that were available within their organization to help them in the accommodation process-- that is if an employee who reported to them asked for an accommodation. And what we found is that a lot of managers are not utilizing these resources. And when we asked why not, it turns out that, in a lot of cases, it's because they're simply unaware that these resources exist. And we found that they tend to be less aware of external resources like DARS, for example, that they could rely on to assist them in the accommodation process.
So we were also curious to learn a little bit from managers about their perceptions of why it is that disability policies and practices aren't as effectively or reliably implemented within their organizations as we might hope. And what they said confirms what we saw in other parts of our data collection, which is that they feel that managers simply lack the knowledge that they need to implement these practices well, that they're unaware of them, and that managers tend not to receive enough training, the kind of training that they would need to know about these practices, and then subsequent reinforcement of that training for them to retain that information and be able to implement those practices. And we also learned that they felt often that the communication about when and how to use these practices was not as clear as they needed it to be.
A second issue that came up was that managers told us that they were unsure about the extent to which senior management really was behind these policies, and was committed to these policies, and expected the managers to implement these policies really reliably, and that they were unclear about the strategic importance of these policies for the organization. So what we see here is a big issue related to communication and training.
We also wanted to know about manager's perceptions about the effectiveness of various disability policies and practices. We reasoned that it's not enough for managers to just be aware of these policies, that in order for them to do a good job of implementing them as intended, they also need to believe in the value of these practices. And we expected that employees who work for managers who really believe in these disability initiatives are likely to have better experiences.
And that's basically what we found. We found that employees who work for managers who believe that these disability policies and practices are indeed effective for promoting the employment outcomes of people with disabilities report believing that the organization really is committed to people with disabilities. And they also reported experiencing fewer instances of bias within the workplace.
We also wanted to know a little bit about manager's perceptions or attributions about why these disability initiatives are being implemented within their organization. So the primary contrast here is whether or not managers believe that these practices are being implemented for compliance purposes, or whether or not there really is this strategic business case rationale underlying the implementation of these practices. And while of course we want managers to be concerned about compliance and to attend to these practices for those reasons, what we found in the data is that when managers also perceive that there's a strong business case or strategic reason for implementing these policies, then employees with disabilities who work for them end up having more favorable experiences.
So what we find, for example, is that employees who work with managers who believe in the strategic importance of disability initiatives are more likely to perceive that these disability practices are effective. That is, it must be that the managers are implementing them more effectively when they believe in them more deeply. They also experience the workplace as being more inclusive. And they're more likely to feel comfortable disclosing their disability. We also find that employees are less likely to report experiences related to requesting an accommodation. And they're less likely to experience bias in the workplace, if their managers really believe in the strategic value of these disability initiatives.
This slide here helps to kind of sum up what we have been finding in our research, and that is that manager's awareness of disability initiatives and policies and practices matter because they help to really shape a pro-disability climate. We also see, as I just mentioned, that managers who believe in the strategic imperative for implementing these initiatives are also more likely to shape a clearly pro-disability climate within their work units.
And as you see underneath the middle box there, we measure disability climate by asking people about the extent to which they felt that the organization was truly committed to improving the employment outcomes of people with disabilities and whether or not employees with disabilities are afforded the same kinds of opportunities as people without disabilities. And this pro-disability climate matters because employees with disabilities who work in these pro-disability climates are more likely to disclose their disability. And we'll get to this issue a little bit more later in the program. They're also less likely to experience bias.
And then the right-hand column there, what you also see is that, overall, their work experiences are more positive. And in fact, although we often see that people without disabilities report more favorable work experiences and report feeling like they're more fairly treated and supported by the organization and things like that, when the work group or department has a pro-disability climate, those differences between people without disabilities and people with disabilities tend to disappear.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Thank you, Lisa. I think a helpful entree into our next set of information, which is going to be about the regulations that support these kinds of changes in the workplace. But before we do that, I'd like to remind our audience to please send your questions to us, either about some of the video insights that we're sharing with you from our federal policy leaders, or from the research at Cornell University that Lisa has just shared with you.
Again, there is a question icon on the bottom of your player. Please send that to us, and let us know who you are. We'd like to actually understand where the questions are coming from.
So we would like to now share with you some further information about the regulations that we talked about in our poll at the beginning of our program today-- Section 503 from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. And to provide further information about this, we have insights from Director Patricia Shiu, who will tell us about these regulations and why the OFCCP thought that this was an important part of trying to frame good practice for employers who are federal subcontractors around hiring and retention of people with disabilities.
PATRICIA SHIU: We're here to protect workers, and promote diversity, and enforce the laws, which require non-discrimination and affirmative action in the workplace. Section 503 was a regulation that was badly in need of updating, because it was so outdated and so old. But part of our goal here is to recognize that there were so many people with disabilities, qualified individuals with disabilities, who didn't even participate in the labor force. And in fact, the unemployment rate among people with disabilities is twice the national unemployment rate.
And so we wanted to use our affirmative action provisions to create an aspirational 7% goal. And implicit in that goal is the notion that you never want to leave talent on the table. In order to really reach every person in the United States and all the talents that they have to offer, you have to make sure that the doors of opportunity are open for them.
Part of that recruitment and hiring requires diversity and inclusion. The inclusion part is really the trick here. We can have a diverse workplace. But unless you really have inclusion, meaningful inclusion where people feel they are welcome in the workplace, they have a stake in the work, it's really difficult to retain a qualified workforce, no matter what the gender, color, disability or not, which is why it's very important when contractors ask employees to self-identify, that contractors put it in context. Why are we asking you to self-identify as a person with a disability? Why are we asking you to do it over the course of many times during your career? When you provide the context, which is we want you to self-identify because we're trying to enhance our equal employment opportunities for you at this workplace, that has a total different context than if someone were to get that sort of form cold.
When there are affinity groups, when there is a message from above, leadership, top leadership, corporate leadership, that this is something that's important, it's important to our workplace, those are the sorts of messages that all employees need to hear in order to feel like they are part of a company that is growing and thriving on not just good performance, but also fairness.
And third, sharing best practices is absolutely critical. We at OFCCP are regulators. We are not part of the business community. We are trying to facilitate the success of every contractor by assisting contractors in conversations with each other, by putting best practices on our web side, by facilitating conversations so that business can talk to business about what works, what doesn't work, what the fears are, and how to get over some of those fears and debunk some of the myths.
There was a lot of uncertainty about these regulations, I can say, as someone who's worked on disability issues since the 1970s, I feel like I am very privileged to have been in this position to help, really enhance the civil rights movement, by making sure that we include people with disabilities in our workforce to the greatest extent possible. We really have come a long way in terms of what we have to do. We have a ways to go. There's still fear out there. There are still people who are fearful about disclosing. There are contractors who are fearful about hiring people with disabilities, but this is a great step forward. And I think the conversation, just in the last year, has changed dramatically as people began to see why this is so important to them and to their bottom line. So I'm just pleased to have been privileged to be a part of it.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Welcome back. And before we move on with our program, I'd like to take care of a little housekeeping. Many of you are sending questions in, and we want to encourage that you continue to do so. Also, some questions have come in about access to the PowerPoints from the presentation that Lisa's making about our Cornell research. And we will make those available after our program. Also, there's questions about the size of the window on the player. And you can adjust that yourself by using the arrows in the upper right-hand of the player frame.
So now, we'd like to continue on and share some of our research. Lisa, Director Shiu had talked about the provision for disability disclosure in the new regulations. And our research has told us about some of the characteristics of workplaces that either facilitate or impede that. So it would be great if you could share that with us now.
LISA NISHII: Sure. I'd like to begin with another poll question. I'd like to know your thoughts about to whom you think people with disabilities are most likely to disclose their disability. Once again, you can click on the icon that looks like a pie at the bottom of your screen in order to answer this poll question.
While we wait for the results of the poll to come in, I'd like to tell you a little bit about what we've learned about the conditions that make it more or less likely for somebody with a disability to actually disclose their disability to the organization. You know, as a lot of people have been talking about, our data suggest that it's when employees feel that the work environment is safe, that there isn't that much of a liability associated with having a disability that they disclose. It's much as you would expect.
And what we find about the factors that help them to feel safe in disclosing their identity are as follows. So when employees feel that HR practices are fairly implemented in general, then they're more likely to feel comfortable disclosing because they're less likely to feel like there's a liability associated with their disability, that if they disclose, that somehow they might be subject to some unfair implementation of HR practices.
We find that when employees perceive the climate to be pro-disability, as you might expect, they feel more comfortable disclosing. So this reminds us once again about the importance of manager's awareness of disability initiatives and managers belief in the strategic importance of them, because these are the factors that really do shape how pro-disability the climate is for employees with disabilities. This third point is related to what I just said in that the more employees feel that the organization really truly is committed to disability issues, the safer it feels for people to disclose.
And lastly-- this point, I think, is quite interesting-- the more people feel that the disability employee resource group within their organization is effective, the more likely they are to disclose. And this is likely due to the fact that they are more likely to feel that they have voice, perhaps, through the employee resource group, or that they have some protection or safety as a result of being part of this community. And so this is just the beginning of evidence that we're starting to collect related to employee resource groups.
I think we're not quite ready to share with you the results of the poll, so I'll return to that. But I will tell you what our research has shown about the targets to whom people with disabilities are most likely to disclose. So as you can imagine, organizations can really only count when employees with disabilities disclose to the HR office, or the HR information system, or some formal system of recording this data. But what we find is that employees with disabilities are much more likely to disclose to other people-- so within the context of relationships with their supervisor or with co-workers.
And as this infographic shows, employees with disabilities are 60% more likely to disclose their disability to their supervisor than to HR. And we see similar kinds of numbers when we look at the rate at which people disclose to co-workers and the rate at which people disclose to formal information systems within their organization.
So we also wanted to know, when they do disclose, are their experiences positive, neutral, or negative? That is their disclosure experiences. And we found that it depends, and that disclosure experiences tend to be more positive when people are disclosing to other individuals-- so to their supervisors or their co-workers. Most likely, we think this is because people are choosing to disclose within the context of a high-trust relationship, and so they are less likely to experience some of these negative outcomes. But when people disclosed to HR through self-identification forms, they are less sure about whether or not their disclosure is leading to negative outcomes for them. And they say that the disclosure experience is less positive.
But once again, we find that context matters. So when employees with disabilities work in work groups that have an inclusive climate, their disclosure experience is better. And when they work for managers who believe in the effectiveness of disability initiatives, again, their disclosure experiences are more positive. And this third point here is also, I think, quite interesting in that what we find is that, when their co-workers, overall, are more engaged in their work, feel more supported by the organization, are more committed to the organization, than employees with disabilities have more favorable disclosure experiences. And psychologists would probably explain this by saying that it's when their co-workers don't experience identity threat, that is they feel that they are supported by the organization, then they have the capacity to be more open and accepting of others-- in this case, of people with disabilities.
So we also wanted to know a little bit about whether or not people's concerns about disclosure were justified. So we asked these survey respondents about problems that maybe they had experienced as a result of disclosing their disability by virtue of asking for an accommodation. And what we found is that, indeed, roughly 30% or so of respondents said that they did feel that they had experienced some problems as a result of asking for an accommodation. And you'll see the main categories of problems that they report experiencing.
So they feel that people start to focus on their disability, rather than on their ability or their performance, that they feel that they are being treated differently by their supervisor, or treated differently by their co-workers, and that they think that perhaps this disclosure has limited their future career advancement opportunities. But there is something that organizations can do about it, because these problems are mitigated when employees work in work groups, again, that have an inclusive climate, or when they have a high-quality relationship with their manager.
So I'd like to highlight a few of the lessons that we've learned about disclosure. But before I highlight those, I will tell you what the poll results show. So it looks like a lot of you answered in a way that's consistent with what we've found, which is that 56% of you thought that people were most likely to disclose to their co-workers. And 17% of you thought that people are most likely to disclose to their supervisors. That number is actually higher in our data. It's much closer to about 60%. And about 15% of you thought people disclosed to HR. And 10% that people are most likely to disclose to their self-identification system. But once again, as I said earlier, that's unfortunately not the case. People are not as likely to disclose to these formal kind of targets of disclosure.
So what can we take away from this research? So there are a few things that organizations, I think, can think about in trying to promote disclosure. And the first is to make it really clear what the individual employee with a disability is likely to gain by disclosing. So it may be that the organization highlights the different targeted initiatives for which the individual would become eligible, for example, maybe some mentoring programs or leadership development programs. And also, the organization should highlight the ways in which disclosure can help the overall community of employees with disabilities more generally.
So by disclosing, they provide the kind of information that organizations need to analyze their HR data or their employee engagement survey results by disability. And that information can be really powerful in helping to shape future initiatives for people with disabilities. And by disclosing, they might gain voice, right? So perhaps they would join an employee resource group, or join in some other ways the community of employees with disabilities and be able to provide important insights to the organization about what the organization can do to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
And then the last point is, reduce the perceived risks. And employees need to know. They want to know what's going to happen with this data. And we'd like to be assured of the confidentiality of that data. And also the other thing is to carefully monitor the factors that we've been talking about throughout the webcast so far, to make sure the right conditions are in place. So carefully monitor the inclusiveness of the climate. Carefully monitor people's perceptions about the disability climate more specifically. And make sure that managers are on board and they have received the training that they need to be aware of these practices and really to believe in the strategic value and effectiveness of these practices. And when these things are in place, the rest should fall into place.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Thank you, Lisa. The results of this research certainly can inform more places about how to heighten the likelihood that people feel comfortable disclosing and getting the accommodations they need to be really successful in the workplace. The key will be whether or not employers respond. And to help us to get insight about employer response to the new regulations and the provision about disclosure, we've invited Cynthia Collver, Vice Chair from the National Industry Liaison Group, to join us and provide her insights.
CYNTHIA COLLVER: There are two new sets of regulations. Actually, these are regulations that reform existing regulations-- one having to do with the employment terms and conditions of individuals with disabilities, and a second set of regulations dealing with veterans. There is some overlap between these regulations, because we do have Wounded Warriors or Veterans With Disabilities that could be covered under both sets. These regulations are aimed chiefly at increasing the employment of individuals with disabilities and veterans.
For both employers and employees and prospective employees, these regulations are creating a lot of visibility around the employment opportunities that are out there for these individuals. And given their high unemployment rate, this is a very good thing for both individuals with disabilities companies and actually for the country at large. Another positive aspect is that it's raising the visibility and the conversation around employment processes, around how we recruit individuals with disabilities. It's raising connections between the employer and service providers, recruiting sources that will help us get the talent.
There's also a widening of the aperture of the diversity and inclusion initiatives in many companies to include and more inclusively bring into the fold individuals with disabilities. We know once more individuals are hired, that that will cause companies cultures to flex, to be accommodating to individuals with a disability.
The fact now these regulations are out there is causing many functions within companies to talk with one another, which is also important. And again, as we employ more individuals with disabilities, we will learn from them. They will learn employment skills, but we will learn what it takes to be inclusive and to embrace individuals with disabilities.
There are several challenges to these regulations. They have been referenced as game changing, and truly they are. This is the first time in over 30 years that these regulations have undergone a change. And staying abreast of the interpretations of all the requirements is a daily piece of work that needs to be done.
Now, we would commend the OFCCP for the many stakeholder meetings that they have held and for a number of clarifying FAQs, questions and answers that they have posted on their website. So it really behooves federal contractors to look at that website on a daily basis and also to be involved with organizations, like the industry liaison groups, where you can go to find out more about the regulations, where you can share implementation plans and best practices with other federal contractors. Particularly in the transition, early transition years of these new regulations, there will be the possibility of different interpretations of the regulations by individual compliance officers and possibly their leaderships in each of the regions.
Lastly, a challenge that we have is with the self-identification survey that is required. So we now are going to be asking applicants, all applicants, those with a disability, to self-identify pre-offer, post-offer. And then we are going to make the same request of our employees.
And so for a number of years, individuals with disabilities have been told, have understood rightly or wrongly, that they should not disclose, that that would cause some harm. So now the regulations actually permit us to do this. Companies are going out with those campaigns to self-identify right now. We are hoping there will be a robust response, so that we can better understand the demographics of the applicant pools and of our employee pools.
I think policy and regulations are very important to the progress that we make in civil rights. So if we look at race or gender, it was the policy that created the regulation, that created the success and now the value proposition or the diversity and inclusion that so many companies celebrate. But it's first starts with a policy vision, followed by a regulation.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Cynthia has provided us with an excellent example of how the federal government can work successfully with the private sector to design regulations to minimize workplace bias, and in this case, specifically focused on people with disabilities. The onus, however, will now be on the corporate sector, on businesses, to follow up on these practices that are framed by the regulations and that we've talked about are good practices to establish the kind of workplace climate that people with disabilities can feel comfortable disclosing about their disability and thrive.
In our time together so far in the program, we've talked a lot about what our experience has been in the United States around disability inclusion, but we'd like to now go back to speak with Judy Heumann and take advantage of her insights in her position in the US Department of State to talk a little bit about the global picture in people with disabilities that has been provided by the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
JUDITH HEUMANN: In 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This treaty is a landmark treaty because it's really based on the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And it is a broad treaty which looks at, once governments have ratified the treaty, governments committing themselves to ensuring that they will work collaboratively with disabled people's organizations and organizations working to advance the rights of disabled people in their countries to develop and effectively implement laws to enable disabled people to have equal opportunities within their countries.
Today, there are approximately 152 countries that have ratified the disabilities treaty or the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We see a growing disability rights movement around the world with the voices of disabled people, in a similar way to what we saw emerging in the United States in the last century, that these people are developing their own voices and are looking very much to working with their governments, organizing disabled people in their countries, and demanding equality and working collaboratively with other human rights organizations within their country.
So these countries really, over the next 10 to 20 years, I believe, should be able to see some significant advancements, certainly focusing on the strengthening of disabled people's organizations, including parent's voices for children with disabilities, the right to education primary secondary and higher education, the removal of barriers that have adversely affected people who have sensory disabilities, intellectual physical disabilities.
And I think equally importantly, the Disabilities Treaty, the CPD, really, over time, will help remove the staggering stigmatization that affects disabled people in many countries, making them pariahs. It's my expectation that effective implementation of the treaty, the emergence of disability rights voices, will really enable the 1 billion disabled people around the world, 15% of the world's population, to take their rightful place in their countries and the world.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Welcome back. And I want to thank the audience for their active participation in today's program. We have many, many questions, probably more than we'll be able to answer. But we are intending now to stay a little bit beyond the 1 o'clock time, if you can stay with us, to try to address those.
We did want to, since we just talked about the global scene in people with disabilities, respond to one question we've had from Mexico. And that is about what you can do if you don't have regulations in place yet that are being actively enforced in a country, and yet would like to promote the interests of people with disabilities and some of the successful ways we've seen that approached in countries.
And Mexico, actually, was an early leader in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is active participation between networks of people with disabilities, disability rights, advocacy groups, employer associations, and government representation. So I would encourage those of you who are in countries now that are seeking to actively engage under the UN CRPD to look for these tripartite kinds of relationships that can bring all of the stakeholders to the table to try to get some traction going on, trying to get support for the UN CRPD provisions.
Now with that, we want to end our program for the near-term, the content. For those of you who can stay with us to answer some questions, we'd encourage you to hang in. But we want to complete our theme by looking at the future.
And we here, at Cornell University, see the students whom we engage with in the active learning process as our future. So we would like to share with you reflections from our students, many of whom we have engaged with through our disability study sequence. And we give you an opportunity to hear why they've chosen to be actively involved in disability studies and also how they see that impacting them for the future.
CHAD EDELBLUM: I've taken two American-based courses. And now, I'm in a global-based course. And it certainly opens my eyes to what other countries are doing and what America's doing to help these people. And it shows me what policies we could enhance and enable to make our policies more like the rest of the world and what policies other countries are not using that we are.
MELISSA GIANGRANDE: After having a close family member have an experience with a Social Security Disability loophole and seeing the challenge they faced with that, I became really interested in why these loopholes exist in our policy, who writes these policies, and what's being done to further them. And so I did some background research, and then found out about Professor Golden's course and took that spring semester of my freshman year.
LOGAN STEVENSON: People like myself, who have had experiences with it, or with family members with disabilities, I think, creates a huge interest in the subject, in general, and a passion about the subject, I guess. And I think those types of people will power the movement towards even more progressive changes for those people, especially in the workforce.
TERESA DANSO-DANQUAH: Yeah. I hope we could live in a society that really embraces the concept of universal design. So that's a thing that we talk about in the disability community that means that something successful for not only people with disabilities, but for everyone.
We always talk about how accommodations may benefit the person with a disability themselves, but also the workforce and other people in the environment as well. So I really hope we can live in a society that's actually inclusive to people, whether you're a mother pushing a stroller and need a ramp, or whether you have a temporary injury, or whether you have a disability, so that we're creating equal access and equal opportunity for everyone.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: We hope you enjoyed the reflections from our students. And for those of you who need to leave us now-- we do realize we're at time-- we want to thank you for joining us and encourage you to come back to our ILR online series-- the next in our series, December 10th-- on conflict resolution, past, present, and future.
For those of you who can stay with us, we'd like to now take some time to address a few of your questions. We have many more questions than we will be able to actually respond to in the time we have available, so we want to let you know, although we will respond to a few, that along with the slides which we will send to all of you who have registered with us today, we will send you information about how to follow-up with us and direct your questions to our technical assistance resources that are a part of the research, the grant that we have for the Employer Practices Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, so we will make that available to you after this program.
But to start, we'd like to respond to a few of the questions that we have been able to cull out from the many that have come in. One question was about differences, in terms of smaller employers. And our research does show that smaller employers have less resources, but certainly no less experience in terms of hiring, retaining people with disabilities. And the question specifically was about disclosure and why someone should disclose if they're in a small employer.
And the issues are not really entirely different. They're very much the same. We encourage employers to give people a reason to disclose, and that is that they will provide accommodations, that they will proactively afford people an opportunity to advance their careers. So the question to the individual is exploring that with your employer, but also, if you need an accommodation, being able to get that so you can successfully work in your job is really critically important.
And also, a part of why we really encourage the provisions in the workplace, good policies and practices that encourage disclosure, is so that each of us can come to the workplace and be all of whom we are. So whether you're a small employer or a large employer, we feel that the recommendations from us are the same.
Another question that we had was resources where people can go to, if they, as an individual with disability, feel that discrimination might have occurred and want to get insights on that. And one resource that is funded by the same funding agency, the US Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research that funds our research here today that we're talking about, provides in each of the 10 federal regions nationally an Americans with Disabilities Act center that has free technical assistance people to help them talk through their experience and get them resources in their local area that can help inform them about whether or not discrimination has occurred. So I would encourage you to follow-up on that. It's online. You can go to a link, adata.org, and find the resources you might need in your local geographic area.
And we have other questions, Lisa?
LISA NISHII: Here's one more so somebody asked about the role that the public system, for example, public workforce agencies like vocational rehabilitation services, what role they can play in supporting employers to improve their practices. Have we done any research about the role that they can play in helping to improve the knowledge and effectiveness of managers and organizations when it comes to supporting employees with disabilities?
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Thank you. Yeah, that's a terrific question and, I think, gets us to a next level of interventions that, when we do training, we do consultations, we talk about, and that is the importance of having partnerships, employers having partnerships with community agencies, which is really where you can begin to develop a pipeline of qualified people with disabilities.
So working with the state vocational rehabilitation agencies in each of your states is a terrific place to start. Each state has a funded state vocational rehabilitation agency that provides training for people with disabilities and job placement services. And getting networked with them is a great first step in developing a pipeline of qualified people with disabilities to bring into your workforce, as well as getting support for people who incur a disability once employed in your organization. We also know that state VR agencies and other community job placement organizations for people with disabilities will come in and provide training at no or low cost. So establishing those relationships is a critical first step in this process.
LISA NISHII: And I would say, in some of our focus groups, so not in the survey data that we presented today, but in some of our focus groups, we have heard from people in a number of different organizations about really deep, good, effective relationships that they have with vocational agencies that have, for example, come in to do targeted information sessions about a particular type of disability, or to help managers understand how they can have a conversation with an employee with a disability, because we hear that managers are often concerned about what they can and can't say or can and can't ask. And so we have heard in our discussions that, indeed, these vocational agencies do and can play a really important role, provided the managers in the organization know what they can ask for. So I think that sometimes is the gap in that they may be unaware of really the range of support that these agencies can provide.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Great point. Other questions?
LISA NISHII: Is there research available on some of the best practices for various packages, technology, or ergonomic equipment that can help people with various disabilities, for example, with visual impairments and hearing impairments?
SUSANNE BRUYERE: There certainly are resources. If you're a federal agency person making that inquiry, I can tell you that there is a great central resource on technology for federal agencies that has been housed in the Department of Defense. And we can get you that information, if you follow-up with a technical assistance request to our employer practices, our RTC, within the Employment and Disability Institute.
Within the private sector, state vocational rehabilitation agencies often can connect you with local vendors or provide consultation themselves on what types of technologies might be available. A terrific national resource that is free to employers and people with disabilities is the Job Accommodation Network, JAN. And you can find that online if you just Google Job Accommodation Network. Lots of free consultation by phone or email on exactly these kinds of issues from JAN.
LISA NISHII: How about one last one?
SUSANNE BRUYERE: All right.
LISA NISHII: OK. So I think you touched on this in one of your prior answers, but I thought maybe it was worthwhile to provide an explicit answer once again. As a recruiter, how can I effectively manage my disability hires, if I can't identify or track my pipeline of candidates? So how can we increase hiring? Earlier, you talked about the role that agencies can play in providing applicants. Is there any other advice we can provide to recruiters?
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Sure. You know, one of the reasons why we encourage consultation with community organizations is that it does help you to know that you have a pipeline of individuals with disabilities, qualified individuals, coming to you. Other things we've seen that's very effective and also helps with creating a climate for inclusion within organizations is establishing internships, summer internships, or semester-long internships of young people with disabilities. This allows you to draw from those already-existing conduits for appropriate candidates that you draw from, but targeting individuals with disabilities and giving yourselves a chance both to try the individual in giving them an internship, and also giving them really helpful real world work experience.
So we heartily recommend internships as a way to go for companies. And we have found that companies that have internship programs are four to five times more likely to have hired a person with a disability in the last year. So it's a very effective practice.
LISA NISHII: Mm-hm. And a lot of universities have offices that you can turn to to provide you with information about students who are registered with the universities having a disability. So that can be one way to reach these students.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: Great point, Lisa.
LISA NISHII: OK.
SUSANNE BRUYERE: And I think we're at time today. We want to thank you for your participation. You've been remarkably engaged audience. We have tons of questions. We do encourage you to follow-up with us. We will send you are our PowerPoints, if you registered with us today, as well as a link to where to continue to provide your technical assistance questions so that we can respond to you.
And I want to thank Lisa, for joining me today. It's been great to be able to share our work and to share about the other kinds of insights from our federal partners and the private sector with our audience today. Thank you, Lisa.
LISA NISHII: Yes. Thank you.
Thank you, for joining us.
LISA NISHII: Thank you. Goodbye.
ANNOUNCER: This has been a production of the ILR School at Cornell University.
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In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, academic, policy and advocacy experts joined hosts Susanne Bruyère and Lisa Nishii Oct. 29, 2014 to discuss the state of employment for people with disabilities today, examine issues that need to be addressed to support full workplace inclusion of people with disabilities, and to share historical perspectives.
Moderators/Hosts: Susanne Bruyère, ILR School Associate Dean of Outreach, Director of the Employment and Disability Institute, and Professor of Disability Studies; and Lisa Nishii, Associate Professor of Human Resource Studies and Chair of ILR International Programs.
Additional insight provided by: Seth Harris, Distinguished Scholar, ILR Department of Labor Relations, Law and History, and former United States Deputy Secretary of Labor; Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary/ODEP, U.S. Department of Labor; Cynthia Collver, Vice Chair, National Industry Liaison Group; Patricia Shiu, Director of OFCCP, U.S. Department of Labor; and Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, U.S. Department of State.
The ILR Online webcast series 2014-15 lineup will feature programs with a "past, present and future" theme, to align with Cornell University's 150th anniversary and the ILR School's 70th anniversary in 2015.