DTE Energy receives national awards for disability inclusion

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DTE Energy has earned two national honors for its work to recruit, engage and empower employees who are differently-abled.

DTE earned a top spot on the nation’s “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion” list after participating in the 2017 Disability Equality Index compiled by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). The company was among the record 68 employers that earned the top rating of 100. The index reflects trends and gaps from 110 companies representing 7.2 million workers.

Companies earn positions on the “Best Places” list based on their culture and leadership, enterprise-wide access, employment practices and community engagement and support.

DTE Energy also received the National Organization on Disability’s “Leading Disability Employer Seal.” This award is being given only to the top 45 of nearly 200 companies that took the survey. Gov. Tom Ridge, chairman of the national organization, recently presented the award to DTE Energy.

“At DTE Energy, supporting people with disabilities goes far beyond just complying with the law,” said Sandy Ennis, the company’s vice president of Diversity and Inclusion. “The company has made significant strides toward building a more inclusive work environment where individuals with disabilities can thrive.”

DTE Energy has improved parking, cafeteria and elevator access and offers employees new technology with accessibility options.

In addition to creating a more accommodating physical environment, the company is building a stronger support network for employees and caregivers. This month, the company is rolling out AIM – a revamped employee resource group for individuals with disabilities. On Oct. 24, AIM will host service providers at an employee fair.

Another priority involves closing the 72-percent unemployment gap among individuals with disabilities. DTE Energy continues to partner with the Detroit Public Schools in the Project SEARCH Collaborative, a unique program aimed at helping students in their last year of high school eligibility to successfully transition to productive adult lives. The company also works with the Autism Alliance of Michigan to improve employment opportunities for individuals with autism.

But while we have made progress over the years, there is much more work to do. Leaders are collaborating with the Southeastern Michigan Employee Resource group to share best practices. The group includes Blue Cross Blue Shield, Comerica, Ford Motor Co., General Motors and other Fortune 500 companies.

“All employers have a responsibility for, and could gain great advantages by, increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for differently abled people,” Ennis said.

The company’s efforts to empower differently abled individuals extend to our customers. Gov. Rick Snyder recently recognized DTE Energy for developing video remote interpretation software to better serve customers in our Home Energy Consultation program.

Efforts that are being recognized are part of a broader commitment to build a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Learn more about DTE Energy’s and other best practices to support diversity & inclusion in the workplace by visiting the national CEO-driven initiative which we joined earlier this year.

Interested in national trends in disability hiring? Visit the Disability Employment Awareness Month website during October.