5 Reasons Why Disability Inclusion Should Be Part of Your Hiring Practices
Including people with disabilities on your team allows for different insights and perspectives
by Diana Jordan, Assistant Digital Media editor at Kessler Foundation
During October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, many organizations and advocacy groups nationwide held events to promote inclusiveness and disability employment. While the disability community is striving to be included in the workplace, many employers do not extend their diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility* (DEIA) goals to incorporate disability. They are often unaware they are closing off opportunities for both themselves as employers and potentially loyal, hardworking employees. Below are five sound reasons why your company can benefit from hiring people with disabilities.
- Supports Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness
For years, disability was not included in the definition of DEIA, but that was changed in 2021 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Long COVID is now listed as a disability under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) since one in thirteen adults in the U.S. has long COVID symptoms. “DEIA is not just about ‘including’ people who have been under-represented as employees,” said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP , senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. Katz was a featured speaker on a recent webinar called “Diversity and the Labor Market: Hiring and Recruiting Best Practices” held on October 20, 2022. “DEIA is about creating a diversified team and a business that better understands all its potential consumers (including people with disabilities),” she said.
- Improves Company Culture
Job seeking is a highly competitive market, which is the reason companies need to listen to candidates' opinions. According to glassdoor.com, “77% of adults would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there, and well over half say company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.” As part of a company's culture, employers need to consider the diverse accommodations that workers may require to excel in their jobs. “Taking a flexible approach does not mean that you will have to compromise your business’ needs, only that a one-size-fits-all policy is not always appropriate. In other words, accommodations work for everyone,” Katz asserted. The goal is to build an environment that is comfortable enough for people to disclose their disabilities if so desired, according to Katz.
- Provides Additional Viewpoints and Skills
A skilled workforce is a necessity for successful businesses. Including people with disabilities on your company’s team allows for distinctly different insights and perspectives. Human resource execs at several large corporations such as Pfizer, JPMorgan Chase, EY, and SAP say they hire workforces that reflect their consumer base, which includes people with disabilities. By hiring staff employees with disabilities, companies can develop even more innovative ideas, products, projects, and services to meet their customers’ needs.
- Increases Company Revenue and Productivity
Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) is a key factor that company investors want to support. ESG is a framework that helps stakeholders understand how an organization manages risks and opportunities around sustainability issues. Investors want to collaborate with companies that value and represent inclusion in the workplace. According to a report from Accenture.com, the companies that identified as “disability inclusion champions had 72% more productivity, 30% higher profit margins, and 200% higher net income.” Work environments that are more inclusive of persons with disabilities often see improved productivity levels as well. For example, Microsoft originally built a successful disability hiring program specific to people on the autism spectrum. Last year it expanded the program to include all aspects of neurodiversity, including ADHD, dyslexia, and other cognitive disabilities.
- Helps Build More Inclusive Hiring Practices
Hiring individuals with disabilities can help encourage other companies to do the same by promoting inclusiveness and offering accessible online resources like applications and onboarding forms. Hiring and retaining people with all kinds of disabilities and diversities is a genuine commitment, according to Katz. “Once a company makes that commitment and sets goals, company execs will see how inclusiveness can positively affect their whole business,” she concluded.
In summary, hiring employees who span race, gender, sexuality, identity, age, and disability, helps create an inclusive workplace and endorses equity. It also promotes a company’s adaptability, growth, sustainability, and competitive edge. Learn more about how Kessler Foundation’s Center for Employment and Disability Research seeks new ways to expand employment for individuals with disabilities, including veterans.
*A growing trend in 2022 is the shift from DEI to DEIA, which stands for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.