Hiring employees with disabilities: Why HR needs to go further

'I always say that my disability is my superpower because of what I've had to deal with'

Hiring employees with disabilities: Why HR needs to go further

One in five employers are unlikely to hire an employee with known disabilities. Research from PageGroup found that 22% of business leaders wouldn’t make the choice – a disappointing and concerning discovery considering the current climate.

“During a time of skills shortages, it’s extremely disappointing that businesses are not broadening their talent pools to include disabled candidates as they search for applicants to fill the gaps in their organisations,” added Steve Ingham, CEO of PageGroup.

“The disabled community has so much potential and untapped talent to offer the workplace. I am confident that many of the disabled individuals I have met are capable of fulfilling the jobs of ‘able-bodied’ workers and in many instances would far exceed the expectations of business leaders and HR managers. As a disabled person in a wheelchair myself, I have seen first hand the hidden workforce that the disabled community represents and recognise the critical need for businesses to find ways to appeal to this community more and understand the strengths they offer.” 

According to the research, just 27% of businesses have tailored job adverts for candidates with disabilities – such as adopting text to speech apps. The reasoning behind businesses opting not to hire candidate with disabilities were found to be;

  • Not having the right internal support available – 23%
  • The cost of modifying existing tech in the workplace – 23%
  • Concerns around legal issues if the hire doesn’t turn out well – 20%
  • Resources to onboard candidates – 20%
  • The perception that candidates may lack skills – 20%

The prejudice isn’t just hampering an organization’s DEI efforts, it’s actually costing them top talent. Research from Accenture found that companies that actively employ people with disabilities consistently outperform those that choose not to. In fact, employers that build disability inclusion into their strategy can expect to see a 90% increase in overall retention.

'Disability is my superpower'

HRD recently spoke with Carolyn Cannistraro, diversity advocate and disability expert, who revealed just how important it is for an organization to hire candidates with disabilities – especially going into 2022.

“I want to expand the definition of diversity to include people with disabilities,” explained Cannistraro. “I always say that my disability is my superpower because of what I’ve had to deal with. Simple things like going to the supermarket requires so much planning. It’s a huge event. I really believe that the skills and talents we've developed as people with disabilities can be easily transferred into a work environment. They can only serve to expand and empower both companies and individuals.”

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