“Where have all the people gone?” I have continued to get this question that I’m sure you have asked – or been asked – related to workforce shortages. In our organizations we feel it daily. A recent article from Fortune caught my eye: Where have all the workers gone? Long COVID has forced as many as 4 million people out of the workforce. According to a report by Brookings, “around 16 million working-age Americans (those aged 18 to 65) have long COVID today” with over a quarter of that population being impacted at work as a result of their disability. These are compelling numbers that provide an additional perspective to today’s workforce issues that have been largely pinned on “The Great Resignation.”
So, how are we supporting our disabled workforce? Is what we are doing to achieve disability inclusion and equity enough? For those experiencing long COVID and its impact, we can start by reviewing our practices around accommodations and leave, evaluating opportunities for flexibility at work, and equipping our leaders to support this impacted part of the workforce. But we should also continue to place great emphasis on accessibility in the workplace for all disabled people. Where in our processes, policies, and approaches are we being inclusive and where are we limiting access and creating barriers? We must continue to ask this question and act if we want to build an inclusive and diverse workforce for agriculture and food. Speaking of acting, I found this toolkitpublished by the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) an innovative approach to making hybrid workplaces more inclusive through the use of accessible extended reality (XR).
Do you have thoughts on this or, like me, more questions? I’d love to hear from you at Lauren.Baer@colostate.edu.
Executive Director, Together We Grow
This message was included in Together We Grow’s September newsletter. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter.