As our society becomes more aware of various disabilities among the population such as autism, dyslexia, or cerebral palsy, employers must adapt and be open to hiring these types of individuals.
The modern workplace still has a long way to go in creating a greater degree of inclusivity and consideration with regards to hiring practices. In 2018, the unemployment rate for people with a disability was 8%, which was over double the rate for those who had no disability, 3.7%.*
Setting the record straight
To be clear, “disabled” does not mean “incapable”, “inferior”, or even “limited”. A common stigma surrounding the concept of disability is rooted in the word itself: “ability”. While some disabilities may limit people’s abilities to perform tasks many of us may find straightforward, many disabilities are not as detrimental.
Unfortunately, this stigma has crept into the workplace, which has often hurt those that have documented disabilities. One common misconception about people with disabilities is that they are unable to perform or keep up (in the workplace) with the “average”, “able” person. This is a dangerous assumption and should not be a generalization.
Educate your staff
It’s important to identify and define different types of disabilities to be prepared as you diversify your candidate pool. The following medical conditions (which many disabilities fall under) are recognized by the American Disabilities Act (ADA):
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing/visual impairment
- Intellectual Disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
A good practice for management to adopt is to view “disabled” as just being different. Think of these differences as normal characteristics that average people have, including strengths and weaknesses that make us all unique.
It’s important to remember that not everyone you interview for a position will be suited to your specific role, regardless of ability. Include prospects that have disabilities, and you will increase your job pool, diversify your employee base and increase your organization’s potential.
Encourage empathy by creating an empathetic-minded culture within your organization. This is as simple as introducing open-door communication policies, using inclusive language, and recognizing and adapting to your employees’ needs.
Attract talent by being inclusive
Word travels fast. Widening your job pool can do wonders for your company’s reputation in the recruiting world.
Say for example you bring in an individual who has dyslexia to interview. Consider creating a safe space by conducting a professional interview that is respectful and earnest. Regardless of the outcome, they will remember their experience and (hopefully) refer or review your company to others in and outside of their network.
To sum up
- When working with someone with a disability, it’s important to try and re-frame your approach. Focus on their ability, not their disability.
- Educate your team to ensure maximum understanding
- Encourage inclusivity in your culture
- Improve your reputation in and out of the workplace
Stand out from your competitors and be an employer of choice by adopting an open hiring mentality. Create opportunities for your organization by creating opportunities for others.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics