Manassas, Va. (February 17, 2021) – Didlake Inc., a Virginia-based nonprofit that connects people with disabilities to employment, education and opportunities throughout the National Capital region, recently received a Certificate of Merit from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The award recognizes Didlake for its demonstrated commitment to disability inclusion. Didlake was among 10 federal contractors to receive the FY2020 certificate, which specifically recognizes contractors for achieving a seven percent disability utilization goal in 50 percent of all job groups.
“We participate in the AbilityOne Program, which requires that 75 percent of our direct labor hours be performed by people with significant disabilities, but this award reflects a much broader look at the organization. Having that seven percent ratio means we are committed to employing people with disabilities throughout the organization, not solely through the AbilityOne Program. It signifies that we truly ‘live’ our mission to enrich the lives of people with disabilities,” said Didlake CEO Donna Hollis.
The seven percent goal applies to corporate staff, such as administrative, managerial, executive and rehabilitative. In addition to meeting the employment goal, certificate recipients also completed a Section 503 Focused Review with no violations. Designed by OFCCP in partnership with the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Section 503 Focused Review Program aims to achieve full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. The program is part of a larger initiative to ensure compliance with equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination regulations for all protected groups
For this initiative, OFCCP is conducting compliance evaluations focusing on a particular authority or segment of employment, starting with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities and requires employers take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote and retain these individuals. Didlake was randomly selected during OFCCP’s inaugural phase of focused reviews. As of the end of FY2020, OFCCP completed 170 Section 503 Focused Reviews.
“An investigator reviewed a lot of aspects of Didlake – our policies, procedures, hiring practices and promotion practices. Did they all support people with disabilities? Do hiring managers know our processes and procedures? This is much more than having a statement about hiring people with disabilities – it’s about having the practices in place and employees knowing about them. The review showed that we are very successful in hiring and supporting people with disabilities in all job groups. It speaks to the culture of Didlake,” said Didlake Vice President of Human Resources Trisha Juerling.
OFCCP’s review included interviews with managers responsible for equal employment opportunity and Section 503 compliance as well as employees affected by those policies. OFCCP also evaluated hiring data, building accessibility and the handling of accommodation requests. Due to the pandemic, the review was conducted virtually.
“They talked to people at varying levels within the organization and looked at much more than just the numbers. When you look at the numbers and then talk to the people, that gives you a much bigger and better perspective of what we do to hire and support people with disabilities,” Hollis said.
Didlake is a non-profit rehabilitative services organization headquartered in Manassas, Virginia. It was founded in 1965 to create opportunities for people with disabilities through services that connect them to employment, education and the community. Through its Day Support, Employment Services, and Workforce Support and Development program, Didlake serves over 2,000 people with disabilities annually throughout Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Didlake is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, accredited by CARF, is CIMS-GB-certified, and proudly serves the nation through the AbilityOne® Program.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) protects workers, promotes diversity and enforces the law. OFCCP holds those who do business with the federal government (contractors and subcontractors) responsible for complying with the legal requirement to take affirmative action and not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discharging or otherwise discriminating against applicants or employees who inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.