A recent article posted by Cleveland.com shed some light on the unemployment levels of disabled workers in the US – and it struck a chord with our team. As a Human Resources organization, we are familiar with, and consult on the ADA, disability discrimination and related topics, but often we’re looking at how to protect an organization, train managers, and accommodate existing employees. And while we know that many American’s have some type of condition that can be potentially classified as a “disability” under the ADA (hearing or seeing impairment, cancer, diabetes, the list goes on….), seeing the statistic in black and white that NEARLY 70% OF THOSE WHO ARE UNEMPLOYED ARE DISABLED was eye opening to say the least.
So, we did a little research:
- 6% of people living in the US have a disability (Bustle)
- Only 28% of companies have disability hiring goals (Inc)
- Tax credits are available to companies who hire disabled workers through WOTC, but only 10-15% of employers take advantage (learn more here!)
- Small businesses can also receive tax credits by way of the Disabled Access Credit (MileIQ)
- 145 companies proactively participated in the Disability Equity Index survey in 2018 to see how they rank on hiring disabled workers (learn more and benchmark your organization here).
Disabled workers have so much to offer and we should be looking at all the reasons why we SHOULD hire them, not just wait to be on the defense when an employee comes to us with an accommodation request. Statistics show that disabled workers are often times more reliable, have a higher overall retention rate, and disabled workers are less likely to get into a work related accident (yes you heard that correctly). Disabled workers also help increase diversity in the workplace and as mentioned above provide various opportunities for organizations to receive tax credits.
I THINK TO A PERSONAL EXAMPLE – A LOCAL GROCERY STORE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD EMPLOYS THE MOST FRIENDLY, HELPFUL, POSITIVE, AND WELL-GROOMED TO BOOT, BAGGER. HE APPEARS TO HAVE A FORM OF DOWN SYNDROME. HE IS THERE JUST ABOUT EVERY TIME I VISIT THE STORE AND HE MAKES ME SMILE EVERY, SINGLE, TIME. I ALWAYS LEAVE THINKING HOW AMAZING IT IS THAT HE HAS THIS GREAT JOB, HE TRULY LOVES IT, AND GUESS WHAT, HE’S ONE OF THE REASONS I WILL GO OUT OF MY WAY TO SHOP THERE. WIN-WIN-WIN!
We encourage anyone reading this to take a step back and honestly assess whether your organization can help make an impact on this population. While we certainly do not mean to imply that hiring workers with disabilities is settling or taking second rate workers, in this market where we are experiencing record low levels of unemployment (3.9% today as we write this article) it is necessary to look to all pools of talent to fill vacancies in your organization. Aside from staffing your vacancies we are certain you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the benefits hiring someone with a disability will have on your organization – diversity, inclusion, building loyalty, potentially gaining tax credits, and helping to serve a population who deserves a fair chance to earn a living!
TPPS is available to support you with all things HR. Just Ask Us!