Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Human Resources Manager's Experience in Disability Mentoring Day

- By Susan Rademaker -

I was fairly new to my role in Human Resources when I first heard about Disability Mentoring Day. I attended the meetings for the Center for Accessible Living; Business Advisory Council and heard there was a need for hosts for the event. I asked some questions, sought approval from my Director and volunteered to host our very first Disability Mentoring Day. I worked hard on coordinating people, schedules and the agenda. I thought the event went well but later read some constructive feedback from one of our visitors. We’ve made changes over the years and I think we are now getting ready to host our 5th annual mentoring day. We are so excited!

Why do we host Disability Mentoring Day? Well, the first time, it was simply because I was asked to. Now, we do it for a lot of reasons but really the question is why wouldn’t we host mentoring day? Disability Mentoring Day takes place during Disability Awareness Month (October) for a reason. Hosting mentoring day helps raise awareness that people with a disability have abilities. There are employees going to work every day who have a disability. Some disabilities are obvious upon observation but many are not. People with a disability deserve independent living just as those without a disability. Mentoring Day can accomplish several things. It does raise awareness to focus on what a person’s abilities are versus what the disability is. It creates partnerships with organizations which can be a resource for qualified candidates to work within our organization. In recruitment, we are always seeking new resources for qualified candidates.

We also want to do what we can to increase the confidence of students or other job seekers who have a disability. It’s difficult enough, when graduating from high school to feel confident about abilities. This is especially true when job seeking. It’s time for the real world and that can be overwhelming to a person with or without a disability. If we can match students up with our employees in the area of the interests, allow them some hands on tasks and opportunities to ask questions; maybe we can build confidence. Maybe we can help that person decide if that is the right career path for them. Maybe we can open doors for them or point them in the direction of the right doors.

In hosting Disability Mentoring Day, we’ve built relationships and we’ve raised awareness within our own employees. We’ve gotten hugs, thank you cards and letters of gratitude. We enjoy opening our doors to assist the community in any way we can. We hope we make a difference for our visitors but our visitors definitely make a difference for us!

Susan Rademaker is the Human Resources Generalist at NPAS, a part of Parallon Business Solutions. 

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