Commentary: Calling on O.C. employers to hire people with disabilities

Goodwill of Orange County celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October.
Goodwill of Orange County celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October.
(Don Ryan / Associated Press)

As our economy works to recover from the effects of the pandemic, companies across all industries have a critical need for skilled and reliable workers of all backgrounds.

As Goodwill of Orange County celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October, we are calling on employers to consider hiring people with disabilities and to adopt inclusive policies and practices in the workplace.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that just over 21% of Americans with disabilities participate in the labor force. That compares with more than 67% of people in the general population.


The BLS also reports the jobless rate among workers with disabilities is double that of those without disabilities, at 10.9% versus 5%, as reported in August of this year.

Goodwill of Orange County envisions a community where there is a job for everyone who wants to work. We want to ensure that every individual who wants to work can work — and that they have access to the services that enable them to do so.

People with disabilities are a dependable and valuable workforce who have higher rates of employee retention, which reduces hiring and training costs. We know this to be true. We see and hear it almost daily from our employer partners.

Hospital clowns offer a healthy dose of humor and possibly healing at CHOC and other area hospitals.

Oct. 6, 2021

We hear it in stories like the one of Ethan, who found his job match working in the kitchen at an O.C. restaurant. He tackles his task list every day without hesitation — preparing sauces, chopping onions, completing recipes and supporting his peers on the culinary team. By having a meaningful job, a purpose and a routine to his every day, he has learned that he is capable of anything. Ethan now knows without a doubt that his developmental disability does not hold him back but propels him forward to reach his dreams.

Over the last 20 years, Goodwill of Orange County has placed more than 15,000 people with disabilities and other barriers into employment.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month dates back to 1945 and highlights the importance of inclusive policies and practices to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to work. That mission is more important than ever today.

As an employer, these opportunities are in your hands.

This month and year round, I’m asking you to hire people with disabilities.

Give opportunity. Provide a pathway to independence through a great job, and you’ll see the benefits amplified within your company.

If you are ready to hire, we are ready to help. Contact us today at (714) 547-6308 or email

Nicole Suydam is president and CEO of Goodwill of Orange County.

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