If you’re new to the world of disability diversity and inclusion, you may need some general guidance and background on the what, why and how. So consider this your starting point for unlocking the power of the EARN website.
Why should employers care about creating a disability-inclusive workplace?
EARN is on a mission to help employers weave disability into their diversity and inclusion efforts. Why? Because recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities is good for America and good for business. Progressive employers everywhere are learning that businesses inclusive of people with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, benefit from a wider pool of talent, skills and creative business solutions. They’re also recognizing disability diversity as an important way to tap into a growing market, since people with disabilities represent the third largest market segment in the U.S. So by proactively employing individuals with disabilities, businesses can gain a better understanding of how to meet the needs of this important and expanding customer base.
What does it mean to be disability-inclusive?
There are numerous characteristics associated with disability-friendly companies, and what’s often surprising to employers is that most inclusion practices geared toward employees and job seekers with disabilities have the added bonus of benefiting everyone. Some exemplary practices include, but are not limited to, the following:
- LEADERSHIP: Ensuring a commitment to disability inclusion at all levels of your organization—including the executive level.
- TRACKING & MEASURING: Adopting written policies, practices and procedures to enhance employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities, and measuring the effectiveness of those policies.
- OPENESS: Establishing personnel processes and job descriptions that facilitate the hiring and advancement of qualified persons with disabilities, and promoting a culture where employees with disabilities feel comfortable asking for the workplace supports they need.
- ACCOMMODATIONS: Giving all employees the tools they need to do their job effectively, whether that means assistive technology, a flexible schedule, or numerous other reasonable accommodations or productivity enhancements.
- OUTREACH & RECRUITMENT: Building a pipeline of qualified applicants with disabilities by developing relationships with a variety of recruitment sources.
- COMMUNICATION & EDUCATION: Expressing your commitment to disability inclusion both internally and externally, and providing training on disability-related workplace issues to staff.
- ACCESSIBILITY: Ensuring your workplace is accessible, physically and virtually. That means a barrier-free workplace powered by accessible, universally designed technology, as well as websites and online job applications that are accessible to everyone. It also means fostering attitudinal accessibility through employee education and awareness.
You may be asking, what skillsets do employees with disabilities bring to businesses? Individuals with disabilities can offer employers a competitive edge, helping diversify and strengthen their workplaces through varied perspectives on how to confront challenges and get the job done. They bring creativity, innovation, problem solving and commitment to the workplace. Studies have shown that employees with disabilities stay at jobs longer, thus reducing the time and cost involved in retraining and replacing personnel. Other benefits reported by businesses include improvement in productivity and morale and more diversity in the workplace.
John Kemp, President and CEO of the The Viscardi Center, explains the benefits of fostering a disability-inclusive culture in your organization.