During National Disability Employment Awareness Month
While workplace diversity is an issue on the minds of every HR professional in the DC region, in today’s tight labor market hiring for neurodiversity is quickly emerging as a critical element in many HR strategies. According to the Brookings Institution, only four out of 10 neurodiverse people are employed leaving millions of working age adults in search of jobs at a time when employers are having trouble recruiting for entry level positions. That’s where the local nonprofit Melwood steps in.
Nearly 1,000 of Melwood’s 1,600 employees are people of differing abilities and for more than 55 years Melwood has prided itself on providing them job training and career opportunities. This month, in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Melwood is looking to advance the field of neurodiverse hiring by hosting two national conferences on the subject here in DC.
The second annual Javits-Wagner-O’Day Legal & Policy Symposium will take place on Thursday, Oct. 17, at The George Washington University Law School. The symposium will focus on disability employment policy, government procurement goals, and the future of government programs that encourage neurodiversity in the federal workforce. Participants include appointed officials from federal agencies and departments such as the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); leading disability employment organizations such as the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), and leading government contracting attorneys. The symposium will culminate with a Congressional briefing.
The following day, Melwood will host The Right Talent, Right Now: Breaking Workforce Barriers Summit on Friday, Oct. 18, at The George Washington University and will feature speakers from organizations like Mitre, BB&T Bank, Accenture, General Dynamics IT, University of Virginia, Ernst & Young, and JP Morgan Chase. The goal of this year’s summit is to bring experts from various sectors together to discuss how to train, recruit, and retain neurodiverse talent and build a reliable new workforce pipeline.
Melwood will be bringing business leaders and HR professionals together with researchers, assistive technology companies, policy makers and neurodiversity advocates to explore the latest research on the benefits of employing a neurodiverse workforce in the private and government sectors.
When asked why Melwood is taking the lead on educating businesses and the public about this emerging issue, Melwood President and CEO Cari DeSantis said, “Melwood is convening these conferences because, for more than 55 years, we have seen firsthand how individuals of differing abilities can positively transform the workplace and society. There are so many companies today looking for talent to fill high-demand jobs and neurodiverse talent may be the solution.”
Melwood is one of the largest employers of people of differing abilities in the country and offers workforce solutions to private businesses and government agencies. Melwood currently employs more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people of differing abilities – while offering job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to thousands of people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. For more information, visit http://www.melwood.org.