RD397 - Progress Report on Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities – September 1, 2021

Executive Summary:

In 2017, the Code of Virginia was amended to establish a goal to increase by five percent, the level of employment of individuals with disabilities over the next five years. One of the requirements for all Executive Branch agencies is the annual submission of a formal Employment Plan that outlines the organization's individual strategies for helping the Commonwealth achieve its goal.

The Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) designed an Agency Employment Opportunity Plan template to collect required information and enables agencies to align practices with overall diversity and workforce planning initiatives.

Sixty-five percent of Executive Branch agencies are in compliance with the mandate, which is a significant reduction from last year when the compliance rate was 85 percent. These agencies submitted a Statement of Commitment signed by their Agency Head or College or University President, and an updated Employment Opportunity Plan outlining their recruitment and retention efforts. DHRM has followed up with the remaining agencies to ensure completion of pending plans.

Agencies have made progress in their recruitment and retention efforts. Representation of Individuals with Disabilities has increased from less than 1% to approximately 3% of Executive Branch employees. This improvement, in part, can be attributed to the implementation of the Voluntary Disability Self-Identification form in May 2020 to improve data collection. However, a continued challenge is that employees are reluctant to voluntarily disclose their disabilities which skews the data available to DHRM. The mandate to establish an Alternative Hiring Process, once implemented, will provide another resource to enable agencies to fully achieve the goal.