Hiring People With Disabilities

Our last post in this blog series discussed how organizations can employ more inclusive marketing practices. This post focuses on how companies can create inclusive workplaces. After all, companies that can attract diverse employees are better positioned to connect with the disability market.

But how can companies welcome employees with disabilities into their workplace? Where do they find them, and how do they retain them?

It starts with recruiting talent. One way to do that is through organizations that can help potential employers find qualified job candidates with disabilities. An example is Canadian Business SenseAbility. You can also get information and resources about hiring people with disabilities from knowledge-sharing groups like Work Without Limits in Massachusetts, or the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work in Toronto.

Do an accessibility audit of your headquarters to make sure job applicants and workers will feel fully included the moment they pass through your front doors. Ask candidates in advance whether accommodations will be needed at the job interview, and be prepared to provide them if they’re requested.

Open your mind as well as your doors. You may have heard myths about the cost and burden of hiring people with disabilities, but they aren’t true. For instance, it’s a myth that employees with disabilities will miss too many shifts; the truth is that workers with disabilities rate average or better in attendance.  Studies have also found that people with disabilities typically do as well or better at their jobs than co-workers without disabilities.

Many, but not all, employees with disabilities need job accommodations in order to perform the functions of their role. But these aren’t usually costly. In fact, the average cost is about $500. Accommodations could range from the high-tech, such as assistive technology software, to specialized equipment, such a phone headset designed for use with hearing aids, to the low-tech, such as a desk that’s wide enough for a wheelchair.

Some modifications cost nothing at all, like flexible work hours, or a reserved parking spot close to the door. More than half fall into this category.

You can get free, one-on-one advice about accommodations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN), or download disability-specific suggestions.

The most important factor in creating an inclusive workplace is the right attitude. Company leaders can demonstrate their commitment to diversity with policy, but also in practice. Provide disability awareness training to your workforce. Make sure written materials, like office memos, are in alternate format. Show support and flexibility when it comes to accommodating the on-the-job needs of your employees.

Businesses that give jobs to qualified and talented people with disabilities aren’t only strengthening the diversity of their workforce. They’re also increasing their ability to resonate with diverse customers.

These are benefits that can make a tremendous difference to a company’s bottom line.

If you’re looking for an innovative solution to recruit people with disabilities, click here.