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 communities, including Fort Smith. These hiring events are taking place during October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month and are 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.”
Mercy Fort Smith will host its inclusive hiring event on Oct. 12. Registration for the event can be found here. Attendees are invited to showcase what makes them a Mercy fit by using traditional resumes or more creative mediums such as a slide show or picture resume.
Interviewees are also invited to attend an online class that provides tips for learning self-advocacy and preparation ahead of the hiring event. Classes are scheduled for Oct. 5 and Oct. 10 and require registration.
“We look forward to this hiring event and the opportunity to meet candidates who we anticipate will be a great fit at Mercy,” said Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospitals Arkansas. “Our leaders welcome the chance to make our workforce stronger and even more diverse.”
Mercy hospitals in St. Louis, Springfield and Oklahoma City will also host inclusive hiring events this month. 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.
Mercy recruitment specialists are focusing on the individual and where their passion and purpose meet, not necessarily where their disability may seem to fit. Mercy has grown its programs through the assistance of its disability, equity, inclusion and belonging advisory board and built relationships with state rehabilitation associations.
“A common misconception is that 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 skill 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.”
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.