HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting, Talent

Do Your Business a Favor: Hire People with Disabilities!

Hiring people with disabilities is the right thing to do, but is it really right for your business? Given the right circumstances, many employers are willing to give a helping hand to a person “in need,” right? What if I were to tell you that the right circumstances are in place and that instead of reaching out the hand of charity, you could be making the best personal and professional move of your career? Do your business a favor: Hire people with disabilities!


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Most business leaders, Human Resources (HR) professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers are open to placing and employing people with disabilities but have been hobbled by misinformation and common societal assumptions. In an effort to demystify the process of hiring people with disabilities, here are a few tips and best practices for hiring people with disabilities.
Let’s be honest: Given the right circumstances, everyone reading this article would be happy to lend a hand and hire an employee with a disability. After all, it’s a chance to offer someone “challenged” an opportunity to better his or her life, right?
The assumption that hiring someone with a disability is a charitable act is so flawed that it makes my teeth hurt! Imagine a scenario in which Laura, a hardworking HR professional, has been getting pressure to hire and improve the retention policy for her organization. She is aware of recent studies showing that nearly 70% of Americans are disengaged at work. What a rock star she would be if she discovered a relatively untapped pool of candidates who not only were qualified, talented, and engaged but also had demonstrated “low absenteeism rates and long tenures”?
A recent DePaul University study points out that employers that participated in hiring disabled workers “… described their employees with disabilities as loyal, reliable, and hardworking. An additional benefit to hiring people with disabilities was the diversification of work settings, which led to an overall positive work environment.”
Many industry leaders have discovered, though, that approaching the recruitment and hiring of a community of people with this work ethic any differently than they would another community is not only devaluing them as employees but also seriously devaluing the leaders’ businesses and limiting their growth potential. How can I justify that statement?
According to the “Global Economics of Disability Report,” the discretionary spending potential among this segment of the economy, together with their friends and family, is approximately $8 trillion worldwide. To put that in perspective, that is greater than the gross domestic product (GDP) of all but two countries in the world, exceeded only by the United States and China. Can you imagine neglecting that much of the marketplace? Businesses that leverage this talent and the spending power of this community are reaping the rewards, as well.
A recent report by Accenture in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities finds that businesses invested in disability inclusion are leading their peers by an average of 28% higher revenue, as high as a 200% increase in net income, and 30% better performance on profit margins.
Additionally, the Accenture analysis reveals this heartening statistic: Hiring only 1% of the 10.7 million people with disabilities has the potential to boost the GDP by an estimated $25 billion. Is there any other socioeconomic group with that much capital that any business would neglect to represent in its workforce? No. So why does it happen?

It’s my belief that businesses don’t intentionally neglect this market or these potential employees. They just don’t know how NOT to.

Let’s return to that rock star HR manager, Laura, who has seen these statistics, reviewed the data, and gotten the go-ahead from leadership to explore hiring people with disabilities for her organization. New questions, and inevitably myths, start to raise concern. She starts to think:

  • We are a tech firm, and I’m not sure that we have appropriate positions open for people with disabilities. Should we create one?
  • Recruiting qualified people with disabilities is too hard. Where would I even start?
  • Accommodating the workplace needs of people with disabilities is costly and more difficult than accommodating the needs of most other employees.
  • Is managing a person with disabilities too difficult?
  • What if it doesn’t work out? I’m concerned that terminating the employment of an individual with disabilities will inevitably get our organization sued.

Her hiring managers, IT recruiters, and business leaders are on board and sold on the idea that hiring people with disabilities is a good move for their organization. She has scoured the Internet and found other articles that contain some of the same information but sadly finds that the learning ends there.
This leaves her wondering, “What do I do next and, more importantly, how?” She’s not alone in having these concerns! That is why having reliable guidance along the journey is crucial. I hope to provide some of that knowledge by addressing each of these concerns at RecruitCon 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. Be sure to swing by the Accessibility Match Consulting booth to learn more!

Tema Smith-Bosken is an experienced senior accessibility subject matter expert with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry. She is a strong HR professional skilled in wireframing, nonprofit organizations, usability engineering, XHTML, and mobile applications. Smith-Bosken launched Accessibility Match Consulting to provide a more holistic approach to integrating accessibility and inclusion into business culture. She is available for consultation, evaluation, planning, and referrals, and her target clientele includes small to large businesses with 25–25,000 employees. Connect with Tema on LinkedIn and with Accessibility Match on Twitter.

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