Well it’s that time again, it is time to prepare for Disability Employment Awareness Month or DEAM. Have you started making plans already? Well, let me give you a little nudge and some potential ideas. Some things I’ve heard of that are being planned are, the usual, but always successful coffee breaks. This is where you take yummy treats like donuts or cookies and coffee to an inclusive employer to recognize their contributions to employment equality. Share the goodies with customers and staff alike, and while you’re there, take the opportunity to tell customers about employment inclusion and your role in supporting it. You can also print off a copy of a certificate for your champion employer, put it in a frame and present it to the business. It’s a great way to show the employer that they are valued. Remember to take lots of pictures and post them all over your social media account.
What, done that already? How about this idea. Two agencies I have spoken to recently are hosting a job fair for employers who are looking for talented, capable employees. Approximately 35 employers have already signed up to attend, some of these employers are sponsoring the event so the cost has been mitigated for the organization. Local organizations are being encouraged to bring job seekers and resumes for the employers and to make sure they leave business cards or even set up appointments to discuss employment after the job fair is over.
Yes, this is a large undertaking, so how about this one. Most local TV stations have noon shows, they are always looking for interesting happenings in the community. DEAM is a perfect way to showcase a champion employer, a couple of their employees (both supported and not) and your organization. You can give a brief history of supported employment, tell the audience what employment inclusion looks like and the employer can tell watchers how being an inclusive employer has impacted his business.
What? You don’t have a local TV station? That’s ok too, radio works just as well and often better. In my experience radio stations will sometimes give you several spots a day if you can provide them with stories and employers.
What about cash mobs? These have been a fun, educational and a rewarding tool to showcase an inclusive employer. Pre-arrange with the employer, then show up on the selected date and tell customers why you’re there and how they can show their appreciation for this particular employer. Some of those messages can include things like spend extra dollars in at the business. When we’ve done this, we’ve asked the employer to tell us how much he/she made for the same day the week before and before that; this way we’ll know if we’ve made an impact at the end of the day! One thing that is happening this year is a National Cash Mob, were several organizations will be doing cash mobs at the same time across the country! A great opportunity to bring exposure to your cause!
Last year, one organization created two television commercials which played on their local stations during the month of October to bring awareness to DEAM. This is a great idea but if you don’t have sponsorship it will be hard to do this can be expensive, but how about partnering with inclusive employers as sponsors? This may take time to develop so you can start thinking of it for next year.
Now, here’s an easy one…do a social media takeover for DEAM and MentorAbility, every day post DEAM related activities, these don’t have to be what you’ve done, they can be reposted from other sights.
This final idea for you is a great idea but will take lots of planning and maybe some sponsorship. Consider hosting have a “gala” event, with formal attire, cocktails, dinner, dignitaries making speeches, and even politicians. Present your champion employers with “Employer of Excellence Awards”, these go to employers who have made inclusion the very fabric of their business and are role models within their communities. Invite other organizations to submit their champion employers, this is a wonderful way for community-based organizations to collaborate and share in the experience.
Of course, these are just a few ideas and I’m sure you can come up with many more; my message is “get out there and do something” to recognize the inclusive employers in your neck of the woods. The efforts will pay off in spades. If you’d like to speak to me or any one of the CASE board members, or to become involved with CASE, please don’t hesitate to contact us through this newsletter.
Happy DEAM everyone!
Joy McKinnon, CASE board member