1. Employers of people with disabilities report high productivity.
According to a study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, employers are satisfied with the way disabled employees execute their workflow. Seventy-nine percent of employers report a positive experience with work quality, and 74% of employers are satisfied with productivity.
The myth about disabled people being unable to meet performance standards was dispelled for the first time in 1990. DuPont conducted a survey of 811 employees with disabilities and found that 90% rated average or better in job performance, compared to 95% for employees without disabilities. A similar 1981 DuPont study involving 2,745 employees with disabilities found that 92% rated average or better in job performance, compared to 90% of employees without disabilities. The 1981 study results were comparable to DuPont’s 1973 job performance study.
The reason for disabled employees’ dedication is simple: they value the opportunity to be employed, to have a day to day job, and to be treated as an average person. Having a job keeps them busy, gives them a source of income and a sense of purpose, and the chance to work towards future dreams and plans.
2. Attracting disabled employees with relevant skills and qualifications.
Breaking down barriers in the recruitment process provides businesses with plenty of possibilities for hiring qualified disabled professionals.
You can find excellent employees with relevant skills for your specific vacancies among the disabled community. By providing them with convenient workspaces and a welcoming atmosphere of understanding and appreciation, you equip your new employees to be more productive and motivated, and to stay with your business longer.
Job Access is the Australian national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disabilities, employers and service providers. The Employ Their Ability campaign is part of the project that highlights the benefits of employing people with disabilities. Its goal is to ensure that employers are aware of Government programs and support that is available to them.
“People with disabilities are an untapped talent pool,” says Ebru Dogan, Diversity and Inclusions Advisor at Gold Coast Health. Dogan’s colleague, Dr. Dinesh Palipana, is the second person in Australia with quadriplegia to graduate as a doctor. He now works in the emergency department of Gold Coast University Hospital and is able to perform all his duties, despite his disabilities.
And that is just one story among 19 available on the Job Access official website, where disabled people tell their success stories about employment. The aim is to show that a person’s disability does not get in the way of effectively performing their job duties.
Niall Betteridge is hearing impaired, but that does not keep him from living a productive life. He holds the position of Director of Enterprise Architecture at PwC, and plays tennis in his spare time.
Claire Mitchell was born with Down Syndrome. People often think that Down Syndrome prohibits people from working and becoming self-sufficient members of society. However, Claire strives to make her impact, working as an Administrative Assistant at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital School.
Kevin Green is a Cleaning Supervisor at Compass Group, and a loving husband. Born with Dwarfism, Kevin does not pay much attention to his disability while performing his duties with high enthusiasm. Residents and co-workers love his jokes and appreciate the high quality of his work.
Carly Findlay is a writer, born with Ichthyosis, a skin disorder. Carly holds the position of Access and Inclusion Coordinator at Melbourne Fringe, because she perfectly understands people with disabilities, and she makes sure that the organization is communicating effectively and inclusively with them. Her disease does not keep her from working with enthusiasm and having a happy personal life.
These examples demonstrate that people with disabilities can perform their job duties as effectively as their able-bodied peers. Providing them with adequately equipped workspaces may require some extra cost. However, those expenses are offset by the quality of work, and the level of loyalty received from both employees and customers. There are also government programs available that subsidize businesses who make structural accommodations for disabled employees.
Hiring disabled employees with relevant skills allows businesses to save money and avoid performance degradation by lowering their turnover rate. For disabled people hired by businesses, being given an equal opportunity for recruitment can be life-changing, and they are likely to remain at the workplace for a long time.
3. Business awareness for the disabled community.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four US adults lives with a disability.
The disabled community represents a huge market segment, and some businesses may target it as a unique audience. Just like other market segments, people with disabilities and their friends and families purchase products and services from companies that best meet their needs.
Even if your business is not directly associated with people with disabilities, if you target a wide audience of customers, you should be open to hiring employees with disabilities. In so doing, you show your customers that you care about social responsibility, and you gain trust among the disabled community. The wider your customer base, the greater your revenue.
4. Build a strong corporate culture with high job morale.
Providing workspaces for employees with disabilities is a great way to strengthen your corporate culture, dispel biases, and motivate your whole team.
Workplace morale goes up, and staff turnover goes down, when employees see the organization’s commitment to supporting and caring about a disabled individual’s potential.
People who have endured great difficulties can be a source of inspiration and motivation to other employees, making them more engaged in their work, and increasing productivity as they strive to keep pace with their disabled coworkers.
People tend to be more empathetic towards their colleagues with disabilities, which strengthens workplace morale. Moreover, coworking with disabled people on equal terms demonstrates that there is little difference in the quality of performed work.
Eliminating workplace biases shows employees that the company they work for is not only about making money, but is interested in creating a progressive social community. Being part of this community makes people feel they are also having a positive impact on the initiative, by helping their disabled coworkers acclimatize.
5. Reduced employee turnover.
Employees with disabilities are more likely to keep a single job for an extended period of time. They are normally very loyal to businesses who provide them with a properly equipped workspace in a warm, friendly atmosphere.
A 2012 study by Walgreens found that workers with disabilities had a 48 percent lower turnover rate than their nondisabled employee population, 67 percent lower medical costs, and equal rates of accuracy and productivity.
Building a workforce that represents all customers and clients makes good business sense. When people with disabilities are given opportunities to do meaningful work, it provides them equal access to the many personal, social and financial benefits that people often take for granted.
Hiring employees with disabilities to fill positions with high turnover rates can help businesses maintain and improve productivity.
6. Reduced workplace accident rate due to increased accuracy.
Safety concerns are among the most common reasons given by employers for not hiring disabled workers. However, the notion that employees with disabilities are more likely to have workplace accidents than other employees is simply untrue.
The earliest studies on this issue were conducted in the last century. According to Chicago Light House, which analyzed two studies, one from DOL in the 1940’s and another from DuPont (1990), “concluded that workers with disabilities had significantly higher performance in the area of safety than their counterparts without disabilities." Both studies looked at different types of jobs, including labor, operational, managerial, clerical and service areas.
These statistics should not come as a surprise, as employees with disabilities tend to be more aware of safety issues at the workplace.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published a guide, “Employees
with Disabilities,” in which it mentioned six case studies of real people with various disabilities, all taking measures to ensure a safe working environment.
Employees with disabilities fully understand all risks, and tend to take the necessary steps to minimize them. They consult with doctors, discuss each and every detail with the firm’s management and HR department, and have open and honest dialog with coworkers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathered four stories of people with disabilities who came up with safety measures to avoid danger in their day-to-day lives.
Nickole Cheron’s story from Real Stories from People living with a Disability is about her preparation for a massive winter storm in Portland, Oregon in 2018. She signed up for Ready Now (an Emergency Preparedness Tool Kit For People with Disabilities, made by Oregon Health & Science University) to prepare for the estimated eight life-threatening days of gridlock. Being born with spinal muscular atrophy, Nickole feels confident in her ability to take care of herself.
7. Tax credits and other incentives.
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities. It requires employers to take affirmative action steps to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.
In addition, all employers must collect information about the disability status of their employees and job applicants.
Some employers of disabled people qualify for tax credits, and others may obtain tax incentives to help make their place of business more accessible.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, an official United States government system, defines three main tax credits and deductions available to business that accommodate people with disabilities:
- Disabled Access Credit
- Small businesses that incur expenses for providing access to persons with disabilities may apply for a non-refundable credit.
- Barrier Removal Tax Deduction
- Businesses of any size may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenditures for items that generally must be capitalized to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly.
- The deduction should be claimed by listing it as a separate expense on the annual income tax return.
- Businesses may use the Disabled Tax Credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year, if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections.
- To use both, the deduction is equal to the difference between the total expenditures and the amount of credit claimed.
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit
- Provides employers incentives to hire qualified individuals who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. This includes people with disabilities and veterans.
- The maximum tax credit ranges from $1,200 to $9,600, depending on the employee hired and the length of employment.
8. Decreasing the poverty rate among people with disabilities.
Disability can be both a cause and a consequence of poverty.
It is a cause because hardship and discrimination create barriers to education, skills development, and employment, and pose other challenges, leading to limited resources, and eventual poverty. Additionally, disabled people have a higher cost of living due to extra medical expenses. Until these extra costs are recognized in poverty line calculations, the exact number of disabled people living in poverty cannot be determined.
Disability is also a consequence of poverty, because limited access to healthcare services and unhealthy working and living environments may increase a person’s chances of contracting a debilitating disease, or they can cause a minor illness to progress to a serious disability.
According to a 2016 research paper, “Disability and poverty. Why disability must be at the center of poverty reduction” (published by the New Policy Institute and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation), 31% of people with a disabled family member live in poverty after housing costs, compared to 18% of people in families with no disabled members.
9. Decreasing the unemployment rate.
In 2016, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in the USA was 10.5%. The unemployment rate for people without disabilities was two times lower. One of the most troubling spectrums is autism, where unemployment rates were between 70% and 90%, depending on the state.
These statistics are driven by a sense that employing people with disabilities is somehow more difficult and costly than employing people without disabilities, and even more fundamentally, that people with disabilities are a burden.
In their news release “Persons With A Disability: Labor Force Characteristics - 2017,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate for individuals with a disability dropped from 10.5 percent in 2016 to 9.2 percent in 2017.
Data on jobless persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households, that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States.
The unemployment rate among disabled individuals is a serious issue. One of the possible solutions is part-time employment. Almost one-third (32 %) of workers with a disability were employed part-time—more so than workers without a disability.
10. Assistants provide a perfect solution.
Management is a pain point for almost all businesses, especially when work volumes go up and the time arrives to rethink workflow. These tipping points often last for a couple of days or weeks. During this time, managers can become overwhelmed with much more work than they normally deal with. It is not easy to decide whether to hire an additional assistant, because you cannot predict whether the amount of work will continue to grow, or if things will return to normal.
Hiring a disabled assistant could be the perfect solution. The position usually requires a variety of tasks each day, combining periods of work and rest.
These positions are often unpopular among ambitious people who are seeking opportunities for career growth and upward mobility. Individuals with disabilities, on the other hand, may view such a position as an opportunity for a new career start. Periods of little or no work could be used for medical issues or rest, depending on the person’s needs.
At the end of the day, if a disabled employee is diligent and ready to work and learn, the business gains a loyal and helpful employee.
11. Inspiration potential.
Success stories of disabled people finding desirable employment and performing their duties while overcoming hardships and inconvenience can be a real source of inspiration for everyone.
The inspirational element can provide multiple benefits for businesses:
- fresh ideas, vision and initiatives;
- friendly and inclusive working atmosphere;
- increased motivation among the entire staff;
- new marketing strategies for business promotion;
- brand awareness through the network of disability-related events, programs, initiatives, and organizations.
12. Following in the footsteps of big companies.
There are plenty of businesses of various sizes that are touting the advancements they have made in hiring workers with disabilities. They provide inclusive workplaces and are proud of their initiatives.
Adopting best practices from other successful companies is an effective way to make changes, minimizing the risk of failure. Businesses should share why they are so passionate about hiring disabled workers, to encourage others to follow suit.
Starbucks has improved all aspects of their services to meet the needs of employees and customers with disabilities. The measures include sign language, interpreting services, break room signage, a welcoming service animal policy, and options for print and digital materials to be shared in Braille and large font, with software designed to enhance computing for partners with disabilities.
As a result of their efforts, Starbucks was selected as the 2014 Disability Employer of the Year by the US Business Leadership Network. The company received a perfect 100 score on the Disability Equality Index in 2015 and 2016, and achieved the top rating of 100 percent on The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) 2015 Corporate Equality Index.
Northrop Grumman came up with Employee Resource Groups (ERG), a vital part of the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The goal is to offer opportunities to each and every member of the Northrop Grumman team.
ERGs allow members to develop and build leadership skills, raise awareness, educate others and contribute to communities. Northrop Grumman pays particular attention to events such as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October), and helps service members with disabilities succeed in the workplace and build careers.
P&G promotes disability diversity in the workplace. The PWD group raises awareness about issues faced by people with disabilities, and supports employees with disabled dependents. They are devoted to creating a more inclusive work environment for every employee, regardless of mental or physical limitations.
Large companies provide powerful models of greater disability workforce inclusion. Their strategy is to reject outdated ideas and myths about hiring disabled workers, and to promote the perspective that workers of all abilities are vital to achieving the company's goals.
13. Breaking biases.
Ensuring safe and convenient workspaces for individuals with disabilities is just a small part of integrating your disabled employees into the working process. The biggest challenge is in breaking attitude barriers.
The UK charity initiative Scope conducted a survey that found that two-thirds of people feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people, and over a third of people tend to think of disabled people as not as productive as everyone else.
A common practice is to provide training and various team building scenarios to ensure a welcoming atmosphere, helping new coworkers blend into the team without excessive stress. Breaking biases and dispelling common myths can be a long process. People need time to get used to their new colleagues, and to realize that disabilities do reduce workplace efficiency or interfere with normal life.
Businesses can have a significant impact on solving social problems by educating staff on how to collaborate with individuals with disabilities. Seeing diversity at the workplace, and being involved in regular conversations with various categories of people (disabled individuals, employees of different ethnicities and religions, veterans, and others) can influence people to reconsider their opinions and prejudices.
It is impossible to break biases and push the boundaries for individuals with disabilities without enhancing social connections. Disabled people often feel excluded from society. Being employed means being involved in social groups, providing a perfect opportunity to break stereotypes and stress the importance of equality for everyone.
14. Building trust in your business.
Potential and current employees, customers, partners and media are more loyal to organizations that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Being open to a diverse workplace population is a sign of a progressive and modern corporate structure.
Another tactic for establishing trust in the business is involvement in a range of non-profit charitable organizations. This leads to increased brand awareness through participation in various initiatives, forums and events, and also through conducting, publishing and promoting surveys, studies and articles.
15. Better customer retention.
Research conducted by TransCen, Inc. shows that employing people with disabilities taps into the growing market of customers with disabilities, with $220 billion in discretionary spending each year.
Moreover, 92% of consumers reflect favorably on businesses that hire people with disabilities, with 87% preferring to do business with these companies. Reasonable consumers choose businesses with practical thinking, but at the end of the day, all people have emotions. Positive intentions from corporations elevate their brands in customers’ esteem.
16. Insights into serving customers with disabilities.
Employees with disabilities can provide inside information on how to create and promote products for this market segment, because they know how to meet the needs of customers with disabilities in the most efficient ways.
Individuals with disabilities can help businesses enhance almost every aspect, from manufacturing to marketing. People who endure hardships on an everyday basis tend to notice small details, hidden to everyone else, but significant to other individuals with disabilities. They are therefore likely to come up with fresh and brilliant ideas on how to improve products, services, and building access for people with disabilities.
17. Greater workplace diversity.
People are diverse. Those who live with disabilities tend to notice small details in day-to-day life that people without disabilities are unaware of. Enduring greater difficulties on a regular basis, disabled individuals become more careful not only physically, but when thinking and analyzing as well.
Due to the unique challenges in their lives, employees with disabilities are accustomed to solving problems, making them proficient at multitasking and sorting out priorities.
In view of this, employees with disabilities may stand out with different perspectives for solving work-related problems, offering effective ideas and solutions.
18. Public benefit.
Businesses often perform charitable and social acts without expectations of any financial gain. However, there are certain rewards:
- Building respect and a good reputation.
People tend to support companies that help society. Community residents are likely to recommend charitable businesses, even if they are not customers.
- Changing people’s lives.
By hiring individuals with disabilities, businesses set an example of how to make a community a better place to live and to work.
- Employee loyalty.
You cannot retain your employees with decent salaries and workplace happiness surveys alone. People feel more motivated when they perceive an overriding goal. Employees sometimes think of corporations as heartless money grabbing entities. Hiring people with disabilities can change a corporation’s image to a business that really cares.
19. Enhancing your marketing strategy.
Hiring employees with disabilities not only satisfies a company’s need for people with relevant skills, but it can also become a significant part of a business marketing campaign.
Almost all successful corporations, including such business giants as IBM and SC Johnson, have a special “Diversity and Inclusion” page on their official websites. Not only does this strategy show visitors how progressive the company is, but it also makes a bold statement that escalates the corporate reputation.
Tactics to boost your marketing campaign and secure strong media presence:
- “Diversity and Inclusion” webpages;
- Stories about employees with disabilities: video, blog posts, infographics, etc.;
- Inviting media to cover participation in diversity-related events;
- Sharing personal knowledge about employing individuals with disabilities and providing them with suitable working conditions by creating PDF guides and instructions;
- Promoting your initiatives in an email campaign;
- Participation in global non-profit organizations, and sharing your business achievements on their websites.
20. Improved community relations.
Successful community relations can be built when your company assumes social responsibility by playing an active role in community wellbeing. Initiatives to improve employment conditions and opportunities for people with disabilities is one of the most powerful strategies for gaining the trust and respect of your community.
Benefits in community relations from hiring individuals with disabilities:
- Improved brand visibility among community members;
- Strong support from community residents who appreciate your efforts;
- Faster growth for small and new businesses;
- Significant recognition and improved business reputation.
This mutual and beneficial relationship between society and business is a win-win situation, where companies gain trust and loyalty by helping the community develop and evolve. An ongoing community relations program is key to your company’s long-term success.