HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

Applicants with Disabilities—What are Their Prospects at Your Organization?

Individuals with physical and mental disabilities are often overlooked when it comes to hiring. Even though there are federal and state laws in place to protect people with disabilities, it can be challenging for these individuals to find employment, even in the absence of overt discrimination, due to a number of factors. Recent historical trends painted a negative picture for the employment prospects of those with disabilities, but research suggests this trend may be reversing.

In an article for HR Dive, Valerie Bolden-Barrett writes that people with disabilities “were leaving the workforce in numbers so great and for so long that economists thought the trend might never end, the New York Times reports. But it finally appears to be reversing after reaching a peak four years ago, according to the paper.”
According to Bolden-Barrett, a key factor in the improving employment prospects of people with disabilities is the general unemployment rate, which has been holding steady at a relatively low 4%. This means that employers are often finding it hard to fill positions and are expanding their search to include previously overlooked and underrepresented pools of talent.
While many employers are increasingly putting an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the focus of these efforts is often somewhat narrowly targeted at increasing the representation of women and people of color. While these are certainly important goals, it’s also crucial to expand the lens to include those with disabilities. Employers should be conscious of the various state and federal laws and regulations related to disabled employees, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These laws, in addition to preventing discrimination, also require certain reasonable accommodations to make the workplace suitable for those with disabilities.
In an increasingly tight labor market, employers are expanding their search for talent. This is good news for potential employees with disabilities. Despite years of declining representation in the labor market, changing economic conditions means that this pool of potential talent is getting increased attention and opportunities.

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