Plenty of focus has been put recently on diversity in employment. Town departments, Police and Fire, the schools — all are taking measures to be more inclusive in recruiting and hiring employees.
Another group is important too: those with disabilities.
Next Tuesday (March 29, 10:30 a.m.), First Selectwoman Jen Tooker kicks off a town-wide inclusive employment initiative.
Residents, businesses, employment service agencies and disability advocates are invited to the Town Hall event.
“Employment Is For Everyone” is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services, the Commission on People with Disabilities and the local business community.
The goal is to encourage and support business in the recruitment, hiring, and advancement of people with disabilities in the workplace.
The Commission hopes to create a disability-friendly, inclusive culture by providing guidance and resources for employers and employees to get the support needed to succeed.
CPD chair Jim Ross says, “Westport already has several businesses successfully employing people with disabilities and embracing a disability-friendly and inclusive culture. These employment champions should be celebrated, and their best practices shared with the greater business community.”
Among those businesses: The Porch at Christie’s, and Stop & Shop. A group of Westporters is working right now to form a non-profit and buy the former Elvira’s/Joey’s by the Shore property by Old Mil Beach, and open a market that would offer training and employment to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Ross adds, “Countless qualified workers with disabilities are eager and ready to work. This population offers tremendous benefits to their colleagues and the businesses that they serve.”
With support from town and business leaders, the Commission has partnered with regional disability employment organizations to create an online platform. The “Employment Gateway” provides a job board, resource guide, and hands-on support for individuals and businesses seeking assistance in enhancing inclusivity among their workforces.
Tooker — who as 2nd selectwoman helped create the “Westport Means Business” and “Choose Westport” platforms — notes, “Studies show that employers who are disability-inclusive realize increased profits and greater consumer loyalty.”