In October, the United States commemorates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to herald the contributions and innovations of persons with disabilities to our country’s workforce. The 2022 NDEAM theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” which recognizes the vital role persons with disabilities bring to workforce diversity and inclusion, both in the public and private sector. Disability is a crucial component of the State Department’s ongoing work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) within our workforce and as part of our foreign policy.
A workforce inclusive of persons with disabilities is critical to achieve broad-based economic growth around the world. An accessible workplace with strong disability policies enables persons with disabilities to fully contribute to an organization’s mission. Despite the progress we have made through the years, our work is far from over. In many countries, the work has not yet begun or is only beginning. Around the world, many individuals still face barriers to inclusion and equitable access. Employment discrimination based on disability is still pervasive, resulting in unemployment, underemployment, and higher rates of poverty.
As we advance these rights around the world through our foreign policy, we must continue to advance equity within the Department, too. We are committed to building a workforce that reflects our nation’s diversity, including individuals with disabilities. Beginning this month, we are encouraging every Department employee at all levels to learn about and participate in iCount – an agencywide campaign aimed at promoting disability-inclusive management practices and allyship.
Advancing disability inclusion is the work of all of us, not only employees with disabilities. Our national security and our shared prosperity depend on it.