#HireMyStrengths Can Help Businesses Understand the Power of People with Disabilities
By Janet Shouse
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and as with all “awareness months,” this one is striving to raise awareness about a particular topic. In this case, it’s about the importance of employing people with disabilities.
Tennessee’s Employment First Task Force, which focuses on improving the employment landscape for people with disabilities in our state, is reaching out again this year to its partner agencies and organizations and friends to encourage participation in the social media campaign called #HireMyStrengths. The campaign, started by the TennesseeWorks Partnership in 2015, encourages people of all abilities to think about what they’re good at. Employers need many kinds of skills and talents.
We’re encouraging everyone—individuals with disabilities, advocacy groups, disability service providers, employers, teachers, parents, siblings, friends—to highlight National Disability Employment Awareness Month and #HireMyStrengths. (And yes, you can participate even if you don’t have a disability! Typical folks can be allies!) You can check out the Hire My Strengths website and find the complete toolkit there. Here are the easy steps to create content for social media and get others involved.
You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever social media is your favorite!
- Download and print the .pdf file at this link
- Identify a strength and write it in big, bold letters.
- Take a picture and post it to your social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) with the hashtags #HireMyStrengths and #NDEAM (for National Disability Employment Awareness Month)
- Surf your favorite social network and look at/share the other #HireMyStrengths posts! The more, the merrier!
- Here’s some general information to share if you want: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! To celebrate, I am joining Tennessee’s #HireMyStrengths campaign to recognize all the unique ways each of us makes our team and workforce better. With or without a disability, we all have valuable skills to bring to the table. #HireMyStrengths #NDEAM
Why is employing people with disabilities important?
- Many people with disabilities want to work. They want a paycheck. They want the self-esteem that comes with doing a job and doing it well. They want the social connections that employment can bring.
- People with disabilities remain a largely untapped labor pool.
- Diversity in the workplace can generate new ideas, new procedures, new connections, and disability is one facet of diversity that is frequently overlooked.
- Companies can improve their bottom line by hiring people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often very reliable workers with good records of attendance, job performance and retention. They bring great problem-solving skills to the workplace, and consumers are more likely to patronize businesses that include people with disabilities in their workforce and marketing.
If you want to take part in this campaign, you need to make sure you include the #HireMyStrengths hashtag in your posts. The hashtag is the powerful key to getting your posts seen and shared by more people. It allows anyone to see all the posts for a given topic. It also allows the organizers and other participants in the campaign to identify the #HireMyStrengths posts and retweet or share them on their social media to increase exposure.
For agencies and larger groups: If you have several people at your agency or organization who are interested in participating in #HireMyStrengths, you can work with your group to write out their strengths and take pictures at the same time—and save them to post throughout the month. On Facebook, you can also create an album for “Hire My Strengths” and post a new picture tagged with #HireMyStrengths in the album every couple of days. But remember: No hashtag means fewer folks see these posts, tweets, etc.!
If you have other content (videos, pictures, articles, news stories, letters to the editor, etc.) that features people with disabilities working in the community, those can also fit the #HireMyStrengths campaign.
If you’re looking for additional resources or ideas for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has some great resources: https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/resources.htm#SocialMedia
I hope you have fun with this campaign, and I hope businesses and state agencies see this as an opportunity to highlight their willingness to hire people with disabilities. What a great way to go through October! I also hope to see LOTS of #HireMyStrengths pictures in my social media feed!
If you have questions about this or other topics, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this blog.
Janet Shouse is a parent of a young adult with autism, and she is passionate about inclusion, employment of people with disabilities, medical issues related to developmental disabilities, supports and services, public policy, legislative initiatives, advocacy, and the intersection of faith and disability. She wears many hats at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, including one as a disability employment specialist for TennesseeWorks.