5 Reasons it Pays off to Hire People with Disabilities
1. PWD CAN RELATE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
1 in 7 people has a developmental disability. That means 1 in 7 customers has a disability. If a company’s workforce reflects the full diversity of the wider community, they can better serve their customer base. Employees with disabilities will not only reflect a an inclusive work environment and disability-friendly image to customers, but they can suggest simple improvements like readability on your website and selecting accessible venues for events that otherwise might have gone overlooked.
By increasing representation of people with disabilities in your business, you’re contributing to overall workplace diversity which contributes to more innovation, better decision-making, higher revenue, improved reputation, etc.
2. PWD ARE THE ORIGINAL LIFE-HACKERS
Since the world is not designed for people with disabilities, people with disabilities are masters at hacking the system to make it work for their specific needs. So it’s really no surprise that the National Employment Studies, including a 30 year analysis by DuPont de Nemours shows that people with disabilities have higher performance ratings. Remember how people assume PWD are lazy and incompetent? Let’s think again.
Believe it or not, people have a ton of hidden bias against people with disabilities. Over 42% of employees with disabilities experience misjudgment and 20% experience avoidance on a daily basis. People with disabilities can be extremely valuable employees except often their ideas or ignored or not taken seriously. It’s 2019 and it’s time to break recognize people with disabilities as leaders and bosses and not menial workers.
3. TAX CREDITS
In the US, for example, the Disabled Access Credit, the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit all offer financial incentives to companies that remove barriers to employment for disabled people. More information is available on the IRS website.
4. IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO
Do you want to be at the forefront of your industry? Do you want to support inclusion and diversity initiatives as part of your company culture? Take the initiative to hire individuals with disabilities instead of showing up late to the game, because it will happen.
5. IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Maybe you think hiring people with disabilities is too complex and you’re concerned with the cost associated for accommodations. However, the U.S. Department of Labor Job Accommodation Network reports that accommodations are usually low cost (less than $500) and in half the cases, no cost was made to accommodate the employee’s needs (e.g. dress code allowances, flexible scheduling, and telecommuting).
Then for every dollar invested in making an accommodation, it’s estimated that companies earn an average return of $28.69. Although at first it may seem these accommodations are only serving your employee, they’re actually benefiting your workplace overall, reducing worker’s compensation claims, and improving productivity and employee engagement.
So now you’re probably thinking, “Well OK, but how do hire people with disabilities?”
1. MAKE SURE YOUR OFFICE + CONTENT IS ACCESSIBLE!
Universal design is a design approach that works to ensure that buildings and products can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, or ability.* Universal design is not a special requirement to benefit the minority of the population. Environments should be designed to meet the needs of ALL people who will use it. To put it simply, universal design is good design. Click here to learn more about the 7 principles of universal design.
Have you ever thought about whether or not your content is accessible? People often need screen readers and image descriptions and that functionality is actually built right into the platforms. Here are other areas to watch out for. Watch this video and make sure all your future posts are accessible.
2. RECRUIT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.
This might seem obvious, but you’d be ahead of the curve if you included this type of initiative at your company. There are many ways to do this, you can partner with disability-related advocacy organizations or find job boards like Workforce Recruitment Program in the US, a government program that connects employers with college students and include people with disabilities in diversity recruitment goals. Learn more about how to recruit workers with disabilities here.
Don’t forget to check local government agencies as well. For example in NYC, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities offers resources for employers to hire individuals with disabilities. Fill out their Submission Form for Employers and post on their job board.
3. MAKE SURE THE INTERVIEW PROCESS IS FAIR
This one’s really simple folks. Are you job advertisements accessible? Are you using small font? Are you offering alternative formats for applications?
If you require a test, are you giving people advance notice and allowing people to take it an alternative formats? Are you making assumptions about how a disability would prevent the person from completing certain tasks, or are you giving them a chance to prove themselves?
Here’s a guide.
Also, try to be really cautious about the language in your ad which can unintentionally exclude certain groups. Try Textio to help you become more aware of that.
4. DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION & PROVIDE DISCLOSURE & ACCOMODATION TRAINING IN YOUR HR DEPARTMENT
Communication between the employer and employee with a disability is the most important ingredient for success. Be transparent when having these conversations and be aware of the accessible transportation in your area. The majority of individuals with disabilities do not need expensive accommodations to succeed in the workplace.
IF you truly have an inclusive hiring policy, then be a leader and be transparent about it. Create an equal opportunities policy and post it on your website site. This is a big one. Only 3.2% of people with disabilities identify as having a disability to their employers, but 30% of employees have disabilities. Why is 30% so surprising? Most employees with disabilities have conditions that are invisible to the eye. Only 13% of people report having a visible disability and 26% report that their disability is sometimes visible. Companies have also adopted disclosure on a “need to know” basis. Either way, disability disclosure is a sensitive topic that is completely up to the discretion of the individual, and not the employer.
5. SHARE STORIES OF LEADERS WITH DISABILITIES!
Personal stories go a long way. Bring in leaders that have disabilities and host a Q & A to get everyone talking and learning about disabilities. It can be as simple as a classic lunch and learn. A great example is Sofar Sound’s Outer Sounds Initiative – a 30 minute lunch and learn that features passionate humans of all backgrounds. In episode three they featured CP advocate and professional dancer, Jerron Marcel. He shared his thoughts on inclusive language, the spectrum of cerebral palsy, and of course – his career in dance. People with disabilities are mothers, bosses, inventors, athletes, designers, leaders, politicians, etc. They are everywhere and their stories deserve to be heard.