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DMEC Announces Partnership with Cornell and EARN


The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is teaming up with The Employment and Disability Institute (EDI) at Cornell University’s ILR School, along with seven other partners, to explore key issues in disability practices over the next five years. The work is funded by a $4 million grant from the Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Susanne Bruyère, ILR Association Dean of Outreach and EDI director, said there are a number of specific employment outcomes that study findings can inform and facilitate.

“We’d like to see more people with disabilities being hired and retained, more being able to advance in their careers, and fewer being disparately affected by layoffs. Often, people with disabilities can be marginalized when there’s an economic crunch,” Bruyère said.

The study’s 13 research projects include focus groups and surveys with human resources executives, as well as in-depth analysis of employer practices with private and public sector organizations.

According to Marcia Carruthers, CPDM, CEO of DMEC, “We are very honored to be part of this important collaborative research program that seeks to further disability best practices. DMEC will contribute subject matter expertise, reference materials, and other educational information that can assist employers in their disability management efforts.”

Lisa Nishii, ILR Assistant Professor of Human Resources, will lead some of the research work with employers. This research goes beyond national surveys and takes a “deep dive” into organizations for a closer look at how culture, policies and practices, leadership and work group dynamics affect the employment experiences of people with disabilities, she said.

“In a previous Department of Labor study, 75 percent of managers said they weren’t aware of disability policies, even though their organizations had these in place. We hope to learn more about the discrepancies between espoused and enacted policy and the obstacles that affect awareness and implementation of policy,” Nishii said.

Another outcome of the study, Bruyère said, is to develop an online tool that will help employers assess their effectiveness in recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities. There will be a “significant outreach effort” in years four and five, she adds, to better ensure that employers have ready access to information on best practices.

“Many of the best practices we hope to identify will also apply to helping employers retain an aging workforce and more proactively recruit, retain and support returning veterans with disabilities,” Bruyère said.

About DMEC
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is a non-profit organization that advances strategies and resources to improve workforce productivity by minimizing the impact of absence and disability. The primary goal of DMEC is to assist employers in developing cost-saving programs and returning employees to productive employment. Visit for more information about educational publications and events.


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