The Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities

When we talk about diversity and inclusion, disability is a faction that is frequently overlooked. October has been named National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in an effort to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities.

There are 56 million people in America with disabilities and 84% of them are unemployed — which makes them the largest minority group in the nation as well as the largest untapped pool of talent.

FindSpark NDEAM Poster

The numbers are staggering, especially considering the mounting body of research indicating the positive relationship between diversity, inclusion, and business performance:

Deloitte found that diversity and inclusion practices made teams more effective; their research showed that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce collected data companies including AT&T, EY, Qualcomm, and PepsiCo who reported that incorporating disability into their D&I practices has had a positive effect on their bottom line.

The Harvard Business Review has made the argument that neurodiversity can be a competitive advantagewith research showing that many adults with autism possess higher-than-average abilities in pattern recognition, memory, or mathematics.

The Disabilities and Inclusion study published by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) in partnership with US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) stated that “…by understanding employees with disabilities….companies can unlock enormous potential.”

The large number of people living with disabilities will only continue to grow. With 1 out of 5 people having a disability, it’s likely you already work with a colleague with a disability. Sixty-two percent of employees with disabilities have invisible disabilities — meaning that people can’t tell they have a disability upon meeting them. 

The word disability with the first 3 letters crossed out

Photo Courtesy of Marny Smith

As an Employment Specialist at the JCC Manhattan, I’ve seen firsthand that people with disabilities are motivated, dedicated, and productive, as well as eager to work and contribute. In addition and perhaps most important: they are competent and capable. When the E.I. DuPont Company conducted a survey of 811 employees with disabilities, they found that 90% rated average or better in job performance.

There are additional benefits to hiring candidates with disabilities including:

Low turnover. Companies report that employees with disabilities have superior retention rates which reduces the high cost of turnover. A study conducted by SHRM estimated that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs the company approximately 6 to 9 months’ salary for that role.

Increased productivity. A report by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that employing individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) contributed to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and increased customer loyalty.

Employer brand enhancement. Hiring people with disabilities has a positive effect on a company’s workforce, its customer base, and the community. Observable business benefits include increased employee engagement and customer loyalty.

Demonstrated commitment to social responsibility. When the leaders of an organization behave in a manner consistent with the firm’s stated values, it reinforces those values. Supporting and modeling the organization’s culture is a top reason for hiring individuals with disabilities.

D&I creates a positive workplace culture. Twice as many high-performance organizations address D&I at the highest level of overall business strategy. Lower-performance organizations, on the other hand, are five times more likely to address D&I only as a compliance strategy.

Monetary incentives. Businesses that hire people with disabilities may be eligible for a number of tax credits and deductions. If a company hires a person with a disability who works with the NY state agency ACCES-VR, they may be able to secure a Work Try-Out which reimburses a business for 100% of an employee’s wages for 3 months.

Does your company utilize inclusive hiring practices? What benefits have you seen as a result? Let us know in the comments!



About the Author

Marny Smith was the VP and Director of Community of FindSpark for 2.5 years. She is a FindSpark Advisor, Certified Professional Resume Writer, Diversity Advocate, and Employment Specialist connecting young adults with developmental disabilities with supportive employers. Interested in learning more about hiring individuals with disabilities? Feel free to reach out:

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