ST. LOUIS - Disabilities can create barriers to employment for many qualified job seekers. To alleviate some of these barriers, Mercy is hosting inclusive interview events in four of its largest communities – St. Louis (Oct. 4), Rogers, Arkansas (Oct. 13), Springfield, Missouri (Oct. 21) and Oklahoma City (Oct. 26). These hiring events are during October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and only one part of Mercy’s larger focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
“Challenges some job seekers face are things most of us take for granted, such as being able to hear the hiring manager or see facial expressions,” said Marisa Hiatt, manager of Mercy disability inclusion operations. “These individuals are eager to work and are often overlooked by many organizations.”
Attendees are invited to show off what makes them a Mercy fit, such as a slideshow or picture resume. In addition, Mercy actively provides ongoing education to co-workers and leaders to promote inclusive hiring and inform them about interviewing and employment resources for disabled candidates.
“I love how Mercy is inclusive by having employment specialists available on a daily basis to talk through anything that comes up,” said Allison Shelley, a hospitality liaison at Mercy Hospital St. Louis who has a language impairment. “My leader works closely with me if I need help with communication. I like how my leader, employment specialist and I collaborate when I need to learn new tasks.”
Mercy recruitment specialists are focusing on the individual and where their passion and purpose meet, not necessarily where their disability may seem to fit.
“A common misconception is individuals with disabilities are best suited for roles with limited public interaction and cannot adapt to changes in routine,” said Ashley McCasland, one of two certified diversity and inclusion recruiters at Mercy. “What we have learned in speaking to many of our candidates with disabilities is their interest and skills sets vary, and our goal is for Mercy to find a fit for all applicants; not to place them in a specific role due to a disability.”
Mercy has grown its programs through the assistance of its disability, equity, inclusion and belonging advisory board and built relationships with the state rehabilitation associations. It was honored by the Missouri Rehabilitation Association as Employer of the Year in 2021 for its focus on disability recruitment efforts. In November, Mercy recruiters will go through inclusive hiring training and educate hiring leaders on diversity etiquette and inclusive interviewing checklists.
Mercy hosts in-person and virtual recruitment events for positions across the ministry. Find one near you.
“Our national recovery from the pandemic cannot be completed without the inclusion of all Americans, in particular people with disabilities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Their contributions have historically been vital to our nation’s success and are more important today than ever. We must build an economy that fully includes the talent and drive of those with disabilities.”
The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month dates to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.