October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). In recognition of the important role workers with disabilities have in the United States, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) held its annual special observance program. The guest speakers talked about importance of inclusive employment policies and practices, and DOE announced a newly formed Employee Resource Group (ERG) for persons with disabilities and their allies.

This year’s NDEAM theme, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” embodies core DOE Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) principals. The contributions and value brought by employees with disabilities goes beyond their work contributions and encompasses the value that is realized whenever principals of equity, diversity, and inclusion are made part of the fabric of a work environment. 

As President Biden noted in his National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2022 Presidential Proclamation: “This month, let us acknowledge workers with disabilities who make our communities, our economy, and our Nation stronger.  Let us continue the legacy of generations of disability rights activists who have fought for equal employment opportunities, integrated workplaces, and equal pay for equal work.  Let us deliver the promise of America to all Americans.” 

Disability: Part of the Equity Equation 

Disability is and always has been part of the rich diversity of our nation and our workforce. During NDEAM and every month we celebrate our commitment to ensuring all workers, including workers with disabilities, have equal opportunity to gain skills and put them to work in inclusive, supportive workplaces going forward.  

That’s why DOE launched SOAR, a new ERG for workers with disabilities and its allies who want to support fellow colleagues with disabilities. Steven Miller, Co-Developer of SOAR, gave inspiring remarks during the event. He said “We are proud to make the noble work of public service more accessible to our workers, provide reasonable accommodations, and assist our DOE employees in achieving their goals and advancing the DOE mission. The most powerful resource we have is our people.” 
 
Secretary Granholm also gave remarks and thanked everyone for attending this year’s ceremony. She said, "Today's event celebrates our colleagues' seen and unseen contributions and challenges us to be better co-workers and steadfast allies." She discussed the opportunities that the Americans with Disabilities Act provides by enacting laws that guarantee the central rights and protections for more than 60 million Americans with disabilities." A basic and vital truth is we cannot have justice for all if equality hinges on ability," she said.  

Accessible and Available 

A respectful and welcoming environment is an important element if DOE is to be effective in the extremely competitive, skilled, high-tech, and scientific-based labor-markets in which we compete. We understand that American workforce is at its strongest when it reflects the diverse communities it serves. 

At DOE we are working  to sustain an inclusive and accessible work environment by strengthening recruitment, retention and promotion, while removing inequitable barriers to advancement and development opportunities. Read our first-ever DEIA Strategic Plan to learn more about our accessibility efforts. 

And in case you missed it, the DOE Clean Energy Corps is hiring. Regardless of whether you are new to clean energy, or have been doing this work for years—we want YOU as part of our Clean Energy Corps. There is room at the table for everyone to participate. Come, join us.  
 
There are exciting things happening at DOE. We look forward to making the small and large pushes toward advancing equity in the workplace and creating an inclusive work environment that will allow people with disabilities to realize their fullest potential. Visit our website to learn more about our efforts and stay informed about upcoming events.