Hiring Employees With Disabilities Benefits Businesses. Here’s Why. ￼
Last Updated: 25 Jul 2022
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Let’s take a look at how to make your business disability-friendly in the job market.
Guest Authored by Elique Guerra, Program Director of Endeavors Unlimited
Many companies view hiring a person with a disability as an altruistic thing to do: a kind and generous action that requires sacrifice, but makes a difference and creates a better world.
I don’t see it that way.
Yes, hiring a person with a disability is a good and generous thing to do, but it’s also a smart thing to do. This particular type of employer-employee relationship is mutually beneficial, and I believe companies who harness the power of employees with disabilities will see tremendous long-term success because they’ve invested in people with uncommon skill sets.
The Disconnect Between Companies & Employees With Disabilities
If hiring a person with a disability is a mutually beneficial practice, why don’t more companies make the effort to hire on the basis of inclusion? The answer comes down to common misconceptions, myths, fears, and assumptions.
Many employers are nervous that hiring a person with a disability means sacrificing quality or performance. However, that is because the average job in our workforce is created specifically for able-bodied, neurotypical people. They are created based on the assumption that the worker will have a standard set of abilities and skills.
So, what happens when you try to put a person in a role that they feel may not fit their skill set? Naturally, they will struggle to perform.
The crux of the issue? While employees with disabilities may have some areas where they aren’t as strong, they often have other areas where they have great strength. By overlooking this simple fact, companies miss out on amazing employees. By excluding these workers en masse from the job market, we are ignoring a rich, untapped pool of talent, culture, and aptitude.
Businesses Benefit From Disability-Inclusive Hiring
Employees with disabilities show dramatically higher rates of job retention, can improve organizational morale, and add invaluable insights to any company or organization’s culture.
Plus, companies and organizations who widen their scope to include people with disabilities see higher profits and more productivity out of their teams. One study showed that companies who hire people with disabilities achieved dramatically higher levels of productivity, profit, net income, and shareholder returns.
So, how can companies begin to up their inclusion rates? It requires creativity and thoughtfulness to create a sustainable, healthy, and diverse employee base and a culture where people with disabilities feel safe to disclose their true needs.
Here are a few ways to begin.
1. Encourage Applicants With Disabilities
The first place to begin is the job posting. Many people with disabilities have faced their fair share of discriminatory hiring practices, and they can be hesitant to (a) disclose their disability, or (b) apply at all. By explicitly stating that you encourage people with disabilities to apply, you create a safer space for honesty and collaboration. Be sure to state that accommodations can be made in the interview process if necessary.
2. Focus on the CAN, not the CAN’T
Attitude is everything. Whenever possible, hiring managers should be asking the question “What can this person do?” above, “What can’t they do?” Approach the interview with a list of the absolutely essential job duties in mind, and then make accommodations from there. If there’s an essential job skill that they cannot be able to perform reasonably because of their disability, it may not be a great fit. However, secondary job duties might have room for compromise.
3. Practice Job Carving
“Job carving” is a top-down approach to creating a job description, and it involves creating a set of job duties specifically with a person or disability in mind. Maybe the potential employee can easily accomplish 90% of the essential skills, but there’s one or two line items that might be difficult due to a disability. Why not take those two line items and reassign them elsewhere, adding another task to the employee’s plate in its stead? There are ways to be creative and carve out the right job for the right person that don’t cost a thing.
4. Cultivate a Sense of Vulnerability & Non-Judgement
At the end of the day, one of the most important elements in creating a disability-friendly workplace is cultivating an accepting company culture. A sense of belonging is key in any workplace, but especially one that includes people with disabilities. It’s important for leadership to speak up about the importance of inclusion and for all workers to celebrate differences rather than fear them.
5. Partner With Job Supportive Services
If you’re looking to pursue more inclusive hiring practices, you might consider partnering with an organization that helps people with disabilities meet their employment goals. Endeavors Job Supportive Services helps these highly motivated individuals by connecting them with an employer that fits their vocational interests and abilities. Once employed, we’ll provide a mentor for the new employee, and if needed, help advocate for accommodations. The best part? Most accommodations don’t cost anything at all—just creativity and open-mindedness.
Ultimately, we help employers foster a work environment that is flexible and open to the talents of individuals with disabilities.
About Elique Guerra
Elique has over 10 years of operations, management, and organizational leadership experience in various roles. He has served his community as a Firefighter/EMT for 11 years. He possesses a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is a Certified Assistant Project Manager. He has extensive experience in training, profit maximization, business operations, six sigma principles, and building and developing teams. Elique is currently pursuing his Project Management Professional with the PMI.
About Endeavors Unlimited
Endeavors Unlimited is a part of the Endeavors continuum that provides housing, case management, life skills training, and supportive employment opportunities for adults with disabilities so that they can achieve a life full of stability, successes, and self-sufficiency. Endeavors Unlimited is a WorkQuest and Source America affiliate and an Endeavors company.