A Muncie, Ind., Courtyard by Marriott relies on an untapped talent pool to staff its hotel and dining establishments, thanks to a partnership with an advocacy group for people with disabilities. The Arc of Indiana partnership requires a fifth of the hotel’s workforce to be people with disabilities.
The hotel restaurant, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing, worked with an Arc partner organization and an assisted living facility to find recruits. “We were looking for people who have everything they need to be independent except a chance,” says Thr3e Wise Men general manager Scott Koger.
Arc of Indiana helps spread the word about restaurant and hotel openings. Its marketing director visits transition fairs, meets with disability service providers and speaks to parent groups. It also trains employers on how to interview, recruit, train and accommodate employees with disabilities.
During National Disability Employment Month, consider these ideas to make your restaurants more accommodating:
Tap national organizations for tips and talent, says Sandy Harris, vice president, global diversity and inclusion, Sodexo. The company works with the National Organization on Disability to find potential new hires. NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker helps companies of all types assess current practices, provides benchmark data, and assists in recruiting. Sodexo, which employs 420,000 people in 80 countries, is ranked among DisabilityInc’s Top Ten Employers for People with Disabilities.
Pots and Pans Productions, which owns and manages Thr3e Wise Men and Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurants, uses tools from the Society for Human Resources Management, which partners with the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy [http://www.dol.gov/odep/] and its Job Accommodation Network. Both offer free guidance on workplace accommodations, including webcasts and training modules.
Don’t overlook local organizations. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Barfly Ventures works with local mental health agencies to recruit people with development disabilities. The employees work with a job coach as they learn dishwashing, cleaning and other duties.
Invest in sensitivity training. Many people are afraid they’ll say or do the wrong thing around someone with a disability, says Jill Vaught, Arc Foundation executive director. She recommends training staff to use language that focuses on the person, rather than the disability.
Consult local disability advocates to help you find ways to accommodate employees’ needs. When a Barfly Ventures employee had an injury that temporarily prevented her from speaking, Ellen Winterburn began looking for ways to keep her on the job with equivalent pay and responsibilities. That got her thinking about how to accommodate people with permanent disabilities.
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