Labor Department Launches Awards For Contractors Who Include People With Disabilities in Workforce

Up to four contractors will receive a “Gold Award” for their efforts and participate in a year of engagement to help educate other companies about disability inclusion.

The U.S. Department of Labor has established a new set of awards to recognize federal contractors who demonstrate excellence in including people with disabilities in their workforce.

The Excellence in Disability Inclusion (EDI) Awards will feature two levels of recognition, according to a department news release. Up to four – two large and two small – federal contractors will receive a “Gold Award” and a three-year moratorium on compliance evaluations from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Those awardees will participate in a year-long program to help educate other contractors about best practices for disability inclusion. The department will also recognize up to 20 additional contractors as “Pacesetters,” all of whom will also be invited to participate in the “year of engagement” activities.

Entries for the 2019 awards, which are sponsored by the OFCCP and the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), are due by August 31.

Craig Leen, the director of the OFCCP, called disability inclusion a “commonsense business practice” for the contractors he oversees.

“EDI serves as an opportunity to recognize those job creators who understand that hiring Americans with disabilities is an important part of compliance and makes business sense,” Leen said in a statement.

Companies hoping to improve their inclusion of people with disabilities should look to their peers that make it “a core part of their organizational culture,” said Jennifer Sheehy, the deputy assistant secretary of the ODEP.

“These companies should be recognized and emulated, and these new awards will help facilitate both,” Sheehy said in a statement.

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