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CDLE Launches Disability Hiring Preference Program to Advance Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in its Talent Management Practices

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For Immediate Release | March 1, 2022

On March 1, 2022 the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) launched the Disability Hiring Preference Pilot, created by Senate Bill 21-095

The pilot was developed by CDLE, the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Personnel Administration, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The pilot will initially be housed in CDLE; if successful, it will be adopted in other state government agencies.

“Our administration is thrilled to see the creation and implementation of a hiring preference for individuals with disabilities in the State of Colorado,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, a longtime disability advocate. “My hope is that this opportunity increases opportunities for individuals with disabilities seeking employment with the state, while also demonstrating  the benefits associated with employing people with disabilities.”

Historically, Coloradans with disabilities experience approximately 30 percent lower rates of employment, and also obtain less full-time employment, than individuals without disabilities. 

The Disability Hiring Preference Pilot will give applicants with disabilities, who choose to identify as a person with a disability when applying for a position, a preference similar to the Veterans’ Preference currently in place. The pilot was created to encourage state agencies to increase the number of employed persons with disabilities and improve the state's practices on recruiting and hiring persons with disabilities. The pilot will run until December 2027. 

“There is an understandable fear of being judged or being deemed unqualified when identifying as a person with a disability during a hiring process,” said CDLE Executive Director Joe Barela, “It is our goal that the pilot ensures Coloradans with disabilities are encouraged to apply for our jobs, without judgment. It is important that the Disability Community knows they are welcomed and valued, along with their voices, talents, and skills.”   

CDLE’s mission is to create an economy that elevates all Coloradans. Over the last year, the Disability Affinity Team at CDLE has created a welcoming space for new and current CDLE employees with disabilities to learn about how important they are to CDLE. “This group allows for a greater support system for people with lived experiences who are a part of CDLE’s workforce,” said DAT Lead and Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, Rachel Hoard, “We are passionate about increasing accessibility and inclusion at CDLE. We welcome all employees with disabilities who desire to learn, empower, and help bridge the gap between ability and disability.” 

CDLE has also been focused heavily on equity, diversity and inclusion training, as it relates to people with disabilities. This includes training for supervisors, managers, hiring managers, and hiring panels on disability etiquette, inclusive interview processes, and accessibility. 

For more information, visit our website.

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