October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

As a warrior in the differently-abled community, I discovered first-hand how challenging it is to seek employment with disabilities. It makes you ask the question, “should I tell my employer about my disabilities” or just hide the issue in full.

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years ago, I was jobless and without insurance. I suffered permanent damage to my vision due to a severe case of optic neuritis and my hearing was affected, along with my mobility but I never let it dull my sparkle.

I was desperate for work and applied to over 100 different marketing positions without a single call back. It’s insane how your resume immediately gets tossed the moment you check that disability box. It’s easy to judge someone with a disability as a potential liability… or perhaps they’ll require reasonable accommodations that seem a bit too cumbersome.

I joined supportive communities filled with warriors fighting various chronic conditions and it broke my heart to learn how many incredible souls give up completely on the job search and end up seeking Social Security assistance. They feel like they aren’t a valuable asset to the community. They feel “less-than” which could be further from the truth! I was fuming with rage at the divide between disability employment and I was going to raise my voice!

This was my chance to perform an experiment.

I built a relationship with two different local recruiters. I had active conversations with them and shared everything they needed to know to find me a job that I didn’t just NEED, but a career I would love! I never mentioned my disabilities other than the fact that I would require healthcare insurance through the employer. Shortly after the conversations, I was in interviews and had two job offers on the table all because I skipped the “disability box” phase.

 

The Truth

Not only is it the law not to discriminate but promoting an inclusive environment for employees encourages connections and collaboration.

Warriors in the differently-abled community have a magical perspective. There is no “DIS-abled” – a person with mobility issues doesn’t give up moving around, they find different ways to be mobile. A person without vision doesn’t give up experiencing, they find other ways and practice gratitude for the senses they do have to make up for it!

 

The Purpose

My job is to empower those in the differently-abled community. Shine light on the fact that they aren’t limited, but in fact, they harness superpowers the world is starving to explore!

I assist job applicants from resume creation to interview prep and speak around the globe in terms of the power of personal branding for professionals, especially those who may need a little empowerment!

I also teach executives and corporate human resource departments on how to build inclusive, save environments that allow individual talents to thrive, despite different abilities.

 

Let’s keep the discussion moving forward
for inclusivity in the workforce and in the world.

 

Do more for your company by having me in to speak more about working with disabilities and building an inclusive workforce for talented professionals to TRIVE.




 ABOUT CHANTEL SOUMIS

Chantel Soumis is the Founder and Creative Director of Stardust Creative, a brand agency focused on embracing differences. As an advocate for the differently-abled community, Chantel spreads awareness, hope, and inspiration to those around the world fighting for acceptance by sharing the hidden struggles of differently-abled community in speaking across the globe. By administering the power of positive thinking, Chantel has overcome severe obstacles and spends a substantial portion of her time coaching others to accept and believe in themselves, and to treat one another with dignity and value, recognizing we are all brothers and sisters of the human race.

Chantel has spoken at many high schools and community programs to encourage future leaders to find their voice and promote inclusion. Chantel is a top influencer on LinkedIn where she contributes a voice often unheard to the platform. Learn more at ChantelSoumis.com and LinkedIn as well as @MarcomChantel on Instagram and Twitter.