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Work-from-Home Trend Could Spark More Inclusive Hiring

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More than 80,000 Iowans living with disabilities are employed as part of the statewide workforce. (Adobe Stock)
More than 80,000 Iowans living with disabilities are employed as part of the statewide workforce. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
October 5, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa -- For many, working from home has become the new norm during the pandemic.

As companies continue to invest in this approach, people living with disabilities say it's time for businesses to consider them an equal part of the workforce.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and advocacy groups agree it's a good opportunity to close the hiring gap.

According to the Brookings Institution, only four in ten working-age adults with disabilities in the U-S are employed.

Brooke Lovelace, executive director for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, is concerned the coronavirus is widening that gap.

"Folks with disabilities, some of them have had to stay home because they feel that they are at risk and they cannot participate in their employment, or cannot participate in the workforce," Lovelace reported.

At the same time, she noted workers have long called for companies to provide more accommodations for working from home.

As a result of the health crisis, technology is proving that remote jobs can be done in a variety of fields, and Lovelace said businesses should make sure they are truly being inclusive in their hiring.

In addition to hiring practices, Lovelace added this month is a good reminder for companies to ensure their buildings have the necessary accommodations for all people living with disabilities.

"It's not just for employers," Lovelace stressed. "But it's just to make it more inclusive for your customers, and for the community."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the latest jobless rate for workers with disabilities is higher than 14%, compared to an overall unemployment rate of around 8%. And in an annual report that tracks state-by-state rankings, Iowa is 13th in the nation for hiring people with disabilities.

Disclosure: Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities, Health Issues, and Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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