Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight
Select Quarterly Observances 2021
July 4: Independence Day or Fourth of July is a United States federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The original 13 American colonies declared independence from Britain and established themselves as a new nation known as the United States of America. For more information, click HERE.
July 11: World Population Day is an observance established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme. The annual event is designed to raise awareness of global population issues. For more information, click HERE.
July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day was launched on July 18, 2009, in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday via unanimous decision of the U.N. General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices: “It is in your hands now.” It is more than a celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and to change the world for the better. For more information, click HERE.
July 24: Pioneer Day is observed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to commemorate the arrival in 1847 of the first Latter-day Saint pioneers in Salt Lake Valley. For more information, click HERE.
July 26: National Disability Independence Day celebrates the anniversary of the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For more information, click HERE.
August 17: Marcus Garvey Day celebrates the birthday of the Jamaican politician and activist who is revered by Rastafarians. Garvey is credited with starting the Back to Africa movement, which encouraged those of African descent to return to the land of their ancestors during and after slavery in North America. For more information, click HERE.
August 18 to August 19: Ashura is an Islamic holiday commemorating the day Noah left the ark and the day Allah saved Moses from the Egyptians. For more information, click HERE.
August 22: Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu holiday commemorating the loving kinship between a brother and sister. “Raksha” means “protection” in Hindi and symbolizes the longing a sister has to be protected by her brother. During the celebration, a sister ties a string around her brother’s (or brother-figure’s) wrist and asks him to protect her. The brother usually gives the sister a gift and agrees to protect her for life. For more information, click HERE.
August 22: Hungry Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan Festival) is a Chinese holiday where street, market and temple ceremonies take place to honor dead ancestors and appease other spirits. For more information, click HERE.
August 26: Women's Equality Day commemorates the August 26, 1920, certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote. Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-NY) first introduced a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day in 1971. Since that time, every president has published a proclamation recognizing August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. For more information, click HERE.
September 15–October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship. For more information, click HERE.
September 6: Labor Day honors the contribution that laborers have made to the country and is observed on the first Monday of September. For more information, click HERE.
September 6–8 (sundown to sundown): Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebration, marking the creation of the world. For more information, click HERE.
September 10: Ganesh Chaturthi a Hindu holiday lasting around 10 days, where the elephant-headed Hindu God is praised and given offerings. For more information, click HERE.
September 15–16 (sundown to sundown): Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, a day of atonement marked by fasting and ceremonial repentance. For more information, click HERE.
September 24: Native Americans’ Day is a federal holiday observed annually on the fourth Friday in September in the state of California and Nevada and on the second Monday in October in South Dakota and Oklahoma, United States. For more information, click HERE.
September 27–29 (sundown to sundown): Shemini Atzeret is a Jewish holiday also known as The Eighth [day] of Assembly, takes place the day after the Sukkot festival, where gratitude for the fall harvest is deeply internalized. For more information, click HERE.
September 28–29 (sundown to sundown): Simchat Torah is a Jewish holiday, marks the end of the weekly readings of the Torah. The holy book is read from chapter one of Genesis to Deuteronomy 34 and then back to chapter one again, in acknowledgement of the words of the Torah being a circle, a never-ending cycle. For more information, click HERE.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2020 only 17.9% of people with a disability were employed, which is down from 19.3% in 2019. Although disability rights and awareness have advanced, it is unbelievable in 2021 that disabilities are still often viewed with such stigma. It is imperative that everyone can live and work in communities that are inclusive and accessible.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The purpose of the ADA is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA was able to break barriers that individuals with disabilities face daily by providing protection in areas of employment, education, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.
Employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations, are covered by the ADA. The nondiscrimination standards of the ADA also apply to federal sector employees. Employers are required to make modifications and/or adjustments to a job or environment — which are termed “reasonable accommodations” — that enables a qualified person with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform the essential job functions. Reasonable accommodations ensure that qualified applicants or employees with a disability have the same rights and privileges equal to those without a disability. Employers are only required to accommodate “known” disabilities of qualified applicants or employees. Under no circumstances are employers required to lower the quality or quantity of standards, nor are they obligated to provide personal items such as eyeglasses or hearing aids.
Examples of reasonable accommodations that applicants and employees may request include:
- Modifying a work schedule.
- Modifying or acquiring special equipment.
- Providing readers or interpreters.
- Modifying examinations, training or other programs.
- Offering materials in Braille or large print.
- Restructuring a job or reassigning a position.
- Providing reserved parking.
- Ensuring computer software is accessible.
- Modifying the work area and/or office.
- Revising policy manual to allow service animals.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), creating broader coverage for individuals who would be protected under the ADA. The ADA and the ADAAA make it possible for an individual with disabilities to enhance their independence.
Each year on July 26, the United States recognizes National Disability Independence Day to commemorate the signing of the ADA. We all can do our part in making employees with disabilities feel included. Some ideas for disability awareness include:
- Use neutral language; do not portray the person as passive or suggest a lack of something.
- Use language to emphasize the need for accessibility and not the presence of a disability.
- Never use negative stereotypes.
- Never disclose a person’s disability unless deemed necessary.
- Evaluate how accessible your business is to people with disabilities.
- On July 26, unite with others and use the #DisabilityIndependenceDay hashtag to share on social media.
- Exhibit works by artists with disabilities.
- Exhibit an informational display about local service agencies and consumer groups such as aging and disability resource centers, centers for independent living, or vocational and rehabilitation agencies.
By LeDonna Marine-Nichols, SHRM-CP
Office Administrator, Haynes and Boone, LLP