Did you know that between 2021 and 2022, there was nearly a 5% increase in employed people with disabilities? With the recent unemployment rate for people with disabilities having declined by 7.6%, the trend indicates that more businesses are benefiting from ability diversity. October is Disability Employment Awareness Month so now is the time to talk about why it’s important and business savvy to have people with disabilities in the workplace.
“Breaking down the barriers between disabled and non-disabled people and creating a truly inclusive workplace should be at the heart of everything you do and considered in every policy.” - Brian Carlin, CEO of Aspire
As many businesses are discovering, all people have value and knowledge to offer, and those with disabilities deserve an equitable space with the right accommodations, so they can impact business successfully. Ultimately, we know that a more diverse work environment is more likely to succeed in the long run. So let’s explore the many benefits of an ability-diverse workplace.
The ROI of employing people with disabilities
Many businesses assume that the cost of employing people with disabilities is high; they assume, unfortunately, that providing accommodations such as assistive technology and the physical infrastructure to include people with disabilities at work will be expensive. But the numbers show, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Job Accommodation Network released survey data findings from May 2023 that directly confront the cost of workplace accommodations for people with disabilities. The survey collected data from 720 employers from different industries and business sizes. According to the report, nearly half of the employers (49%) said the accommodations needed by employees with disabilities cost nothing. And, another 43% of the employers incurred a one-time cost, of which the median expenditure was about $300, which was a reduction in cost from previous years' reports.
Some may even argue that the return on investment when employing people with disabilities is beneficial to a company. The same report emphasized certain direct benefits, according to the responding employers, which include:
- 85% increase in the retention of a valued employee
- 53% lift in employee productivity
- 48% rise in employee attendance
- 46% reduction in costs associated with training a new employee
- 33% improvement in the diversity of the company
An increase in safety, improved interactions with coworkers, and company productivity also improve as a result of hiring more people with disabilities.
Employing people with disabilities looks like…
People with disabilities should have equal access and opportunities when applying for a job and participating in the hiring process. They deserve a chance to prove themselves as dedicated employees with added knowledge that can take your business to the next level. But for many, it’s hard to get past the application stage, let alone find themselves at a new place of employment where they are included and made space for.
To be part of the change, and ultimately move the needle on disability unemployment rates, you can implement an inclusive interview process at your company, invest in assistive technology, and provide physical accommodations to make your building accessible.
First, your interview process should involve the Learning and Development team to understand your demographic. They will show you how to become highly receptive and communicative to potential employees with disabilities. You should also use your high emotional intelligence to ensure that your office space is set up with sensitivity so that your job seekers don’t face any barriers when coming in for an interview.
Next, provide assistive technologies or softwares like screen readers or magnifiers for employees with visual disabilities, or purchase noise-canceling headphones for employees with Autism or ADHD. People with both visible and invisible disabilities need to be accounted for. Finally, according to the Americans With Disabilities Act, your building should have wheelchair champs, elevators, accessible bathrooms, and even Braille on the walls, or a space for guide dogs to make every candidate feel welcomed and included.
Prioritizing inclusion starts with you
Now, you’re educated on the employment rates and ROI of employing people with disabilities, so you can get started on prioritizing inclusion at the core of your company during Disability Employment Awareness Month and even long after. Begin with an inclusive interview process that ensures everyone can be recruited at your company, and then invest in assistive technology, software, and infrastructure that sets your people up for success. You can contribute to the rise in employed people with disabilities while setting a new standard for inclusion practices in your industry.