Five advantages of hiring more disabled people.
Posted by Mitch on 9th March 2021
There are plenty of reasons other than pity to include disabled candidates in your target talent pool.
Here are just 5 of them.
1. They’re an untapped talent pool.
There are about 7.6 million people of working age who have some form of disability. This is a huge chunk (around 20%) of the talent market.
Most of them have particular niche abilities and character traits that would be essential to most companies for certain jobs – abilities and traits that they often struggle to find in non-disabled people.
Jane Hatton, the managing director of Evenbreak: a not-for-profit, specialist job board run by disabled people for disabled people, tells me that according to her research, companies that have both the will and the ability to accommodate the needs of disabled staff will automatically have access a much wider pool of talent.
This is particularly relevant for those highly skilled, knowledge-driven roles that are often so tricky to fill.
But, attracting them involves a little more than simply stating “We are an Equal Opportunities Employer” at the bottom of your job adverts.
2. They think differently.
Disabled people are natural problem solvers.
Think about it. Most disabled people, whether their impairment is physical, sensory, neurological, mental health related or developmental (or a combination of these) have had to develop skills to manage the additional barriers they face every day in navigating their way around a world not designed for them.
For example, creativity and innovation in finding new ways of completing tasks.
Determination, creativity and persistence in finding different solutions to problems.
Resilience in having to constantly find new ways of managing situations most people take for granted.
Project management in planning the most routine everyday activities.
All of these skills would be really useful to most employers.
People who face additional barriers will often acquire additional skills as a direct consequence of having to deal with those extra problems.
3. They have better attendance records.
Many studies have found that, on average, disabled people tend to have significantly less time off sick than their non-disabled colleagues.
This is probably because most are already used to dealing with chronic symptoms and so are generally less bothered by a slight cold or a stiff neck.
Disabled people also stay longer in their jobs and a US study discovered that once a disabled person has been in a job for 12 months, their retention rate is 85% – which is almost 3 times higher than non-disabled people.
Disabled workers are more loyal, if only because for them, finding a job is more difficult.
4. They’re just as productive.
Disabled workers often have far greater resilience than most other people – largely because they are constantly having to find new ways of managing situations most people take for granted. They often develop skills in innovation and creativity to navigate a world that’s not been designed with them in mind. These are useful skills for most businesses.
A 2012 Equality and Human Rights Commission called ‘Opening Up Work: The views of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions’ found that many disabled people feel that they need to work harder and perform better to prove themselves in their job, which partly explains why productivity levels can often be higher in disabled employees – albeit for the wrong reasons.
Here’s a case in point…
A Partner at well-known firm of solicitors recounted his experience of employing Kyle for an office junior role with a sight impairment. The Partner was approached by a local charity that supports people with visual impairment suggesting that Kyle could be considered for the job. The Partner was reticent, worrying about productivity and health and safety issues, as well as what adjustments would need to be made. As it turned out, all Kyle needed was screen magnification to help him use his computer.
It soon became obvious that Kyle was capable of much more and he is now studying to be a paralegal, with ambitions to eventually be a solicitor. The firm of solicitors is now fully converted to the benefits of employing disabled people.
5. Hiring disabled people makes you a more attractive employer.
Organisations that are attractive to disabled people are also more likely to be attractive to non-disabled people. This is backed up by numerous studies.
The University of Massachusetts found that 87% of American consumers prefer to patronise companies that hire disabled people and a 2011 PwC survey of more than 4,000 graduates revealed that this generation are looking for strong diversity policies from employers.
Having a good reputation for inclusion attracts more customers and the best candidates – disabled or otherwise.
It also adds to the company’s reputation as an organisation that has a social conscience and can add a wonderful new dimension to help bolster their corporate and recruitment marketing.
All of this is backed-up by a 30-year analysis by the chemical giant DuPont de Nemours which conclusively showed that disabled people have equal or higher performance ratings, better retention rates and less absenteeism.
By opening up some of your jobs to disabled people, everybody benefits.