Struggling to find workers. Fulfilling diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. These are issues for employers and current news. March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time to broaden our vision and embrace DEI by hiring our neighbors with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is a reminder that their right to opportunities and inclusion must also be regarded and upheld, and that their challenges can be similar to those of other underrepresented people.
Labor shortages present an opportunity for employers to consider the possibility that they may find a great hiring match in a person with I/DD. According to the Association of People Supporting Employment First, in Colorado, the rate of competitive integrated employment for working aged people with I/DD is approximately 26 % compared to 79% for people without disabilities. So, there is plenty of hiring potential. In the experience of the Developmental Disabilities Resource Center and the individuals we assist, people with I/DD have found great job matches in a variety of roles, industries and settings, from restaurants, to retail, hotels, senior living services, entertainment/movie theatres, preschool, schools, dog “daycare,” grocers, and big box venues.
With job coaching and employment supports through agencies like DDRC and similar providers, people with I/DD explore their interests, survey job options, grow skills, and get on-the-job support to facilitate a win-win for themselves and the employer.
These issues and opportunities are moving toward the forefront as Colorado seeks to develop businesses in the state. “We strive for the business community to fully support and mobilize our available workforce in its entirety,” said Jansen Tidmore, President and CEO of Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, “including employing the talent and capabilities of people with I/DD.”
As a chamber representing businesses, and a nonprofit serving people with I/DD, we invite you to see people with I/DD for their dignity and abilities first, and welcome them in all areas of life. You may discover a wonderful coworker and loyal, valued team member!
Kristin Kim, Vice President, West Metro Chamber of Commerce
Michele Majeune, Director, Community Relations, Developmental Disabilities Resource Center