To mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month, SHRM supports efforts to expand the talent pool for jobs, including with people with Down syndrome
ATLANTA, Oct. 24, 2018 — Given the most competitive job market in decades, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) actively advocates for employers to expand the pool of people considered for employment. Today, SHRM recognized the progressive work of the National Down Syndrome Society with a surprise to the organization to further its #DSWORKS® Employment Program.
A donation, announced by SHRM Corporate Secretary and Chief of Staff Emily Dickens, was made at SHRM’s national Diversity & Inclusion Conference & Exposition being held in Atlanta. Dickens surprised two representatives of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) after their riveting keynote address that received a standing ovation, “Ready, Willing and Able to Work — How You Can Tap Individuals with Down Syndrome in Your Workforce.”
HR plays a critical role in leading the change that is needed to make work better for everyone. In announcing a $5,000 donation, Dickens challenged the 900 HR and other executives attending the educational conference to contribute as well.
Dickens told Sara Hart Weir, president and CEO of NDSS, and Kayla McKeon, NDSS manager of grassroots advocacy: “I can’t ask all of these people (in the audience) to be a social force if SHRM is not going to be a social force. You came when we called. You asked for nothing, and we don’t want to send you home empty-handed. On behalf of SHRM, we’d like to present donation to your organization.”
“We can’t thank you enough! This experience has been more than we could have hoped for or imagined,” Hart Weir wrote on social media. “So appreciative of SHRM for their generous gift to NDSS to help us continue fighting for the human rights of all individuals with Down syndrome.”
In leading the discussion on solutions to today’s recruiting and skills gap challenges, SHRM has encouraged employers to expand their talent pools to include underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities, military veterans and people with criminal backgrounds. The talent pool also must include older workers and foreign-born workers.
At the same time, employers must think differently about talent and stop screening candidates for unnecessary qualifications.
“Partnering with SHRM and participating today and, of course, through their generous donation, is really helping show the world that people with Down syndrome are ready, willing and able to work,” Hart Weir said.