Honoring Disability Pride Month at Extract Talent

Every July, we celebrate Disability Pride Month, timed to honor the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Disability Pride Month celebrates people with disabilities, shines a spotlight to honor their contributions and achievements, highlights their ongoing struggles for justice and fair treatment, and works to educate about culture, identity, and the meaning of “disability.”

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that approximately 13% of the American population (nearly 42.5 million people) live with some type of disability. From Bureau of Labor Statistics comes a handful of other relevant statistics on people with disabilities in the workforce:

  • 21.3% of people with disabilities were employed in 2022, in contrast with 65.4% of those without disabilities.
  • 30% of workers with a disability were employed part-time, significantly higher than the 16% figure for those without a disability.
  • The unemployment rate for persons with a disability is about twice as high as the rate for persons without a disability.
  • Half of the U.S. population with disabilities falls into the 65+ age demographics.
  • People with disabilities are more likely to be self-employed than people without disabilities are.

Although the ADA has been in place for over three decades, and advocates work incredibly hard to raise awareness and fight for necessary change, people with disabilities still frequently face challenges in every aspect of their lives, including employment. The complex bureaucracy that they have to navigate can make it frustrating for many individuals with disabilities to live their lives with dignity and on their own terms.

While Disability Pride Month is about raising awareness of these issues, it’s also about pride itself. Disability Pride is meant to counteract the stigma and lack of understanding of disability. Instead of telling stories of disability as something to be “overcome” or “fixed,” Disability Pride is about celebrating diversity and intrinsic work, focusing on fresh perspectives and unique talent, and combating stereotypes about what it means to have a disability.

This month also provides the perfect opportunity for leaders, especially at cutting-edge companies like those in the energy industry, to take stock of their own commitment to diversity and inclusivity, especially related to disability rights. By prioritizing voices with lived experience and bringing in more diverse perspectives, we can work together to find ways to implement policies that are better designed to welcome people with a wide range of disabilities and ensure their talents can shine. Our leaders can lead by example, focusing on ways to find and work with innovative talent who might not fit the “traditional” mold, but who could provide transformative perspective to an organization.

Just as the energy industry encompasses a wide range of stakeholders, niches, and strategies, the disability community also has a wide range of needs, preferences, and talents. Many energy companies are already looking to build flexibility into their strategies in order to be resilient against changing norms in energy overall. This same strategy is critical to being a good ally and creating a culture that is welcoming and inclusive to people with disabilities. Some areas to start with might include:

  • How accessible are your offices and other physical locations? Take into account how doorway and walkway widths, access to multiple levels, and restrooms can be accessible for those who use mobility aids.
  • Are your policies inclusive of both physical and intellectual disabilities?
  • Are visuals in the workplace (signage, online portals, computers and tablets, etc.) designed and/or set up with visual accessibility features?
  • What options are readily available to ensure full inclusion of individuals with hearing-related disabilities?
  • How does your team actively request, listen to, consider, and incorporate feedback from people with disabilities?
  • Is your HR team fully trained on the most up-to-date legal requirements, anti-discrimination guidelines, and related topics?
  • What protocols are established to handle violations, microaggressions, or incidents of discrimination? What trainings are offered – and how are they crafted? – for all staff on issues of inclusion, including disability awareness?

At Extract Talent, we are committed to innovation, thinking outside the box, and celebrating diversity in all its forms. We’re proud to honor Disability Pride Month, and we hope to be part of a community leading the way in ensuring improved advocacy, awareness, and inclusivity.