DEVELOPING AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAM
If you are an employer who has a federal contract or subcontract of $10,000 or more, you have affirmative action obligations, under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, to employ and advance people with disabilities. If you have a contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more and employ 50 or more per sons, you have an obligation to develop and maintain a written affirmative action program, and to disseminate that program inside and outside your organization, in accordance with regulations of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs of the U.S. Department of Labor. If you have a contract of $10,000 or more, you are obligated to take affirmative action in employing disabled and Vietnam Era veterans, under that Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act.
In developing an affirmative action program, it is essential to approach the task from a positive point of view. Disabilities come in various forms, some noticeable and some not. Tapping this resource through prescribed affirmative action initiatives could very well result in identifying and capturing the much-needed human resources required to survive in the competitive marketplace.
If a written plan is required. seven specific areas need to be identified and presented.
1. An Affirmative Action Policy Statement
This needs to be published and distributed. It’s important that all employees have an opportunity to understand what the policy statement means to the company and individually.
The policy should clearly state the company’s nondiscriminatory position as it pertains to people with disabilities; and mention in the course of doing business that affirmative action will be taken to employ and advance in employment, qualified individuals with disabilities at all levels within the organization.
2. Internal Dissemination Of The Policy
This section should address the posting of the policy on company bulletin boards, discussing the policy during new employee orientation briefings, featuring employees with disabilities in employee handbooks and company newspapers, informing union officials and management of the company’s policy and commitment, publishing the policy in company procedure manuals and emphasizing affirmative action efforts that are endorsed by top management.
3. External Dissemination of The Policy
This section should include that stated commitment to identifying resources within the community from which qualified individuals with disabilities can be recruited. This includes notifying schools, state employment service agencies and rehabilitation service groups of opportunities within the company. 4. Outreach and Positive
4. Outreach and Positive Utilization Efforts
An affirmative action program is not restricted to employment alone. Reference should be made to demonstrated commitments to community-based organizations responsible to individuals with disabilities. This includes supporting programs by funding and/or providing in-kind services to rehabilitation and betterment programs which enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities; and, in many cases, prepares the person with a disability for competitive employment.
5 Review of Internal Procedures
This section of the affirmative action plan should indicate what steps are taken to assure all company policies and procedures include the commitment to affirmative action Of equal importance is the assurance that no policy or procedure discriminates against an individual because of a disability.
6.Implementation, Development and Execution
This section should high light, and to some degree, recap the initiatives taken to prepare, monitor. and carry out the affirmative action plan. Some points worth noting would be policy and procedure review, educational assistance programs, accommodations made, and personnel support of community based initiatives.
7. Complaint and Procedure This section should explain the internal complaint procedure in place for individuals to voice their concerns and who feel they have been inappropriately treated because of a dis ability. The complaint procedure should be viewed as an honest forum with confidentiality incorporated.
An affirmative action plan should be viewed as a dynamic document, reflecting the attitude and behavior of your company in the way it fosters opportunities for qualified people with disabilities Recognizing each company and organization is different, the first step toward developing an affirmative action program is understanding Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the appropriate regulations Take the time to review these law It will be time well spent and will assure an appropriate understanding of what needs to be done.
INTERVIEWING TIPS FOR THE JOB APPLICANT
The old adage “Knowledge is Power” is useful to keep in mind as you prepare for the job interview. In this context, knowledge means a number of things: know your own capabilities and limitations, what the job you want entails, what you can contribute to the job, and how to pre- sent yourself in the most positive manner.
There are several types of employment interviews. Being familiar with them can help you better prepare for your interview.
A structured format in which certain predetermined areas are explored using questions which have been written in advance and that are asked of all interviewees.
A flexible format which is more conversational and does not rely on questions written in advance. The interviewer becomes more of an active listener.
A panel format in which members alternately ask questions of the applicant.
Interviews can be stressful events. These tips for the interview may be helpful:
Show your interest in the job you are seeking and in the business, Smile, Speak clearly.
Don’t put on an act. Being yourself can help you relax during an interview and cut down on stress.
Review your resume/job application before the interview to have it fresh in your mind, because it will be fresh in the mind of the person who interviews you. Carry a completed generic application with you. This will enable you to provide information that may be required and to complete an application form if it was not done before the interview.
KNOW THE ORGANIZATION:
Your knowledge of the prospective employer will contribute to the positive image you want to create. Research the organization before the interview: talk to others who work there; ask for information about the organization and for a job description when the interview is set up; use the public library’s reference books on public and private organizations.
Tell the interviewer about your work skills, strengths and experience, including any volunteer work you have done. If you haven’t had a particular kind of experience, say so. but also indicate your willingness to learn new skills. You don’t have to embellish the truth. Simply present yourself as a positive person with skill to offer the employer
LOOK YOUR BEST:
You will never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Dress appropriately for the type of job for which you are applying. Looking your best will make you feel more confident and more relaxed. It will also show the inter viewer that you are serious about the job and about yourself.