National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The word “physically” was deleted in 1962 to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities. The week was expanded to a month by Congress in 1988 and its name was also changed to NDEAM.
When the Office of Disability Employment Policy was created in 2001, it was given responsibility for NDEAM, including selection of its annual theme. The theme for NDEAM 2021, is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.” This theme is chosen to reflect the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
AMS has been recognizing NDEAM for a number of years, with our participation in a special event in 2015 to our 2018 “Inclusion Drives Innovation” Continental Breakfast on the AMS campus, utilizing the Learning Center classroom space. AMS has long been a leader in the movement to employ individuals with disabilities, recognizing that indeed, inclusion does drive innovation. In 2021 we continue our practice of employing individuals with Disabilities.
To advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) AMS has launched DE&I Training for all employees to take. In August the company relaunched DE&I Champions to represent each location! Creating an accepting, inclusive and educated culture is not only important to reduce the chances of discrimination, it will also allow all AMS employees to feel welcome, safe and valued.
AMS Fulfillment works with the following agencies to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities: Desert Haven, Lancaster House, Pleasant View, California Spectrum, DOR (Department of Rehabilitation) and the Mayors Committee for the Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. AMS’ Chief Workforce Development Officer, Ken Wiseman, is a past member and former Chair of the Mayor’s Committee.
In 2021, AMS has graduated 54 employees in DE&I Training. This training is a job requirement. Also in 2021 the company relaunched the DE&I Champions program, where one or two representatives per building will champion Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity. The DE&I Champions will serve as an essential resource and an incubator to encourage, support, and recognize employee participation in these efforts.
The AMS DE&I Champions are available to talk with employees about diversity and how safe and secure they might feel at work. The Champions also arrange events, help with the reviewing of policies and workplace culture documents, identify areas in which the business can improve its efforts to be more inclusive and help to ensure everyone has the facilities to be comfortable at work.
We know that when individuals feel happy and secure at work, they’re more likely to stick around for longer and perform better in their role. It goes without saying that an openly diverse and welcoming business, will attract more of the best talent and could even be the reason why someone chooses to work there.