Monday, July 03, 2000

Disabled Americans can help employers

Changing mind-set can draw upon untapped labor pool

By Andrea Kay
Enquirer contributor

        Here's one way to ease the pain employers feel from the tightest labor pool in 30 years. They can change their mind-set and tap into one sixth of the working-age population that isn't being deployed — Americans with disabilities.

        U.S. employers are simply overlooking these 43 million potential workers, according to a study by the Program on Employment Disability at Cornell University School of Industrial & Labor Relations. Researchers who surveyed more than 800 private-sector and 400 federal department employers found that:

        • Forty-three percent of federal employers and 22 percent of the private employers said supervisors and co-workers have negative attitudes toward people with disabilities, which is a barrier to employment and advancement.

        • Nearly a third of the employers said supervisors don't know how to make accommodations for the disabled.

        Some employers get high marks for modifying their facilities to improve access and restructuring jobs and work hours. The problem seems to have more to do with mind-sets, and less to do with handrails.

        The solution, everyone agrees, is to focus on changing negative attitudes through training and education — a commitment that must come from upper management if it's going to have impact.

Finding resources
        Timely and helpful career information for people with disabilities can be found at Besides a source for finding jobs (employers can also post positions), you can learn how to conduct a successful job search by accessing information from The Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities (JIST Publishing), by Daniel Ryan.

        Dear Andrea: I work in a department where there are many young people, and I am disgusted by the amount of flirting that goes on. I am there to do my job and resent the time these workers spend on meaningless chitchat and hanging around each other's desks. Who do they think they are fooling? Does this go on in other offices as well? — Not a Flirt

        Dear Not a Flirt: If you watch a program like Ally McBeal you'd think that's just about all that goes on. Although I don't think it's that pervasive, it does occur. According to a USA Today survey, six out of 10 workers say they have seen co-workers flirting. Only one-third admit to it themselves. Of the ones who do confess to gallivanting around the office, 56 percent say they do so with co-workers, 30 percent say they flirt with customers or clients, 18 percent say it's with subordinates and 9 percent say it's with the boss.

        Dear Andrea: I have a brother who lives abroad and has worked in foreign countries for 15 years in the hotel management business. I would like him to apply for job in the United States. How does he get started? — U.S. Sister

        Dear U.S. Sister: First, he needs to talk to a lawyer about the labor and immigration law that affects his status as a worker. Then he can focus his search on the biggest area of growth in the hotel management business — suite hotels. This is where business customers especially are willing to pay higher prices for bigger, equipped spaces, says the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

        Other areas that are growing are economy-class hotels. He'll find more managerial opportunities in large, full-service hotels that offer restaurants, fitness center, large meeting rooms and play areas for kids.

        He can get more information on careers in hotel management in the United States by writing: The American Hotel and Motel Association, Information Center, 1201 New York Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20005.

More advice for Going Crazy
        Thanks to all of you who wrote me to tell Going Crazy how to handle the situation with her boss who doesn't have the best bathroom etiquette. (He doesn't flush well and leaves odors.) Everyone who wrote suggested she carry a book of matches with her and light a match, saying it really does the trick. One woman suggested she post a sign that says, “Flush twice, strike a match once.”

        Career consultant Andrea Kay is the author of Greener Pastures: How To Find a Job In Another Place, Interview Strategies That Will Get You the Job You Want and Resumes That Will Get You the Job You Want. Send questions to her at P.O. Box 6834, Cincinnati 45206; fax: (859) 781-2228. E-mail:


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