The most pressing — yet — diversification and inclusion crisis in corporate America: mental health


You may have noticed that depression and anxiety have been added to the voluntary self-determination of disability model over the past few years. Why is this important?

  • The Department of Labor requires federal contractors and subcontractors to provide equal employment opportunities to persons with disabilities, and has delegated at least 7% of the workforce to a contractor or subcontractor of individuals with disabilities.
  • every year, Fewer and fewer small businesses Sell ​​their goods and services to the federal government. This means that the majority of major private sector employers today – from Amazon to Microsoft – use Voluntary self-identification form for disability To collect information about their employees’ disabilities to provide accommodation and support.
  • about 19% of American adults diagnosed with anxiety disorders, the most common mental illness in the United States and one of the most common disabilities covered Americans with Disabilities Act.

Paradoxically, self-identifying as disabled with depression and anxiety in the voluntary self-identification model of disability is worrisome to me. Which leads me to a theory: working professionals who are not underrepresented in the workplace do not always identify themselves as disabled in the voluntary self-determination of disability model for fear of “double minority” discrimination in the workplace. For the purposes of this article, underrepresented professionals are minorities in the workplace, either of a demographic (eg women, LGBTGIA+), or ethnicity (eg: Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, etc.), or socially (eg veteran, working parent) perspective.

I think this is when combined The growing mental health crisis in AmericaThe stock, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) crisis has become the most pressing, yet undiscussed in corporate America today. I interviewed several HR consultants, ED&I experts, and underrepresented employees to hear their thoughts on the Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Model, and to test my theory.

mental health specialist

Dr. Harold HongHe is a certified psychiatrist in New water recoverybelieves that the Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Model can help people with disabilities mental disabilitiessuch as anxiety, depression, or ADHD, requesting specific accommodations without disclosing personal medical information.

While the form is entirely voluntary for employees to complete and can be kept confidential if they choose, it is intended to help employees obtain appropriate amenities, such as assistive technology, flexible scheduling, or physical adjustments to the work environment. But 2017 report By Coqual found that among college-educated employees in white-collar work environments, 30% of these employees work with some form of disability. However, only about 3.2% of these employees chose to disclose their disabilities to their employers.

ED&I Leader

Others believe that it leads to unconscious biases. Award-Winning ED&I Leader Danny Herrera He is one of those people. “Unfortunately, not every recruiter or hiring manager has received adequate training to reduce their biases, especially in relation to talent with disabilities.” Interestingly, during her weekly apprenticeship sessions with working professionals, Herrera found that many neurodiversity and multicultural professionals (particularly women of color and especially black women) prefer not to share this information until they are hired.

Even worse, unconscious biases among hiring managers cost today’s top employers. Companies such as PepsiCo, Synchrony Financial, American Express, Aon, and Staples that have taken action to hire people with disabilities have seen Average 14% higher retention rate in the same roles and a 33% decrease in interview-to-hire ratios, saving valuable time for talent acquisition professionals while reducing the time required to fill positions.

Herrera highly recommends two practices for HR teams. Companies should review their full interviewing and hiring practices to identify all biases embedded in their processes and systems. For example, after reviewing some of their processes, companies may learn that interviewers may rate their candidates based on their body language, eye contact, handshakes, and the time they take to answer interview questions. All of these practices are, in one way or another, highly biased and unfair towards candidates with disabilities.”

This is an important point that should be shared across entire organizations since in recent years hiring managers have started asking cross-functional team members to influence candidates without giving them any information about comprehensive language and accessibility best practices. This practice threatens the confidentiality of disability for those who identify themselves and increases the risk of employment bias.

Second, Herrera believes in normalizing the conversation around reasonable accommodations, as recruiters ask these two questions during all their conversations: Is there anything you need to make this interview process work for you? And the Is there anything we haven’t had a chance to discuss that you’d like to mention before moving forward? “Some candidates may use the opportunity to share more professional details about themselves, and some may use the opportunity to request accommodations,” adds Herrera.

Underrepresented employee

Cameron Emily Craddock Howe is a working mom in Virginia. She believes that her disability does not define her, so she has no problem marking “yes” on the voluntary self-determination of disability form. “It immediately helps establish a relationship of trust with a potential employer. I have ADHD and dyslexia, which can affect my performance without accommodations. Being open about my disability helps ensure I have what I need to be successful in my job,” she explains. “It’s a win-win for me and my employer,” she said.

Rob Oliver, a Penn State professional, uses an electric wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury at age 21. Conducted his own experience: Occasionally progress to roles without identifying disabled in the Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Model. “I found that I received a much better response from a resume that did not list items related to the disability than from one that shared information that showed I had a disability.” (Although the research was not scientific, Oliver reported receiving three times as many job interview responses using a non-disability resume.)

Oliver continues, “The personal reason I don’t disclose my disability is that I’d rather defend myself in person than my resume would be remotely.” “In other words, if potential employers see my disability before seeing me, they may not even bring me for an interview. By not disclosing my disability, they see me with my disability at the same time.”

When asked, all of these professionals concluded the same point: they only recommend candidates to self-identify in the VSD Model if they feel supported, if it is physically and psychologically safe to do so, or if they share information that is particularly important to the individual. It is up to companies, and more specifically, team members who are interviewing talent, to promote inclusive and fair hiring experiences.

Unless a company is very open and transparent about its practices and inclusion strategies, and this knowledge is shared across the organization, it is very difficult for an applicant to know if this new employer will be welcoming, inclusive, and accessible.


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