Progressive Human Resources, Management & Leadership

Employable Abilities

In an article titled, “Hiring the Handicapped: A Matter of Good Business,” Newsweek shared that a talent pool that is often overlooked is that of disabled individuals.  It went on to explain that many businesses are reluctant to hire individuals with disabilities because they fear that these workers are prone to injury or are concerned that they won’t be good workers.  However, according to the article, production records indicate that workers with so-called disabilities have average or better attendance, loyalty, safety and productivity.  Here’s the kicker.  That article, which shared a dramatic business case for hiring individuals with disabilities, is dated April 25, 1955!

Nearly 60 years later, we continue to hear some of the same concerns expressed by hiring managers when considering hiring an applicant with a known disability.

Federal contractors have a legal obligation under Executive Order 13078 to develop outreach efforts and recruit individuals with disabilities.  All employers, however, should note the significant contributions and positive business outcomes (all of which are statistically documented) resulting from hiring individuals with disabilities.

In a study completed in 2010, only one-half of the employers surveyed said they would consider hiring individuals with learning disabilities.  Their response was tied to their fear of appropriately supervising these individuals.  How do we dispel the mythical worries of high-maintenance associated with employees with intellectual disabilities?

I’m a big fan of the television show, Glee. On Glee, Lauren Potter, plays Becky Jackson, one of the Cheerios at McKinley High.  Lauren, along with Robin Trocki, who plays Jean Sylvester (Sue’s sister) are the two cast members on Glee with Down’s syndrome.  I watch Glee because it entertains me—not because it celebrates diversity.  Oh, I know New Directions is comprised of the so-called high school “misfits” but, it was only recently that I realized just how many of the regular and guest cast members actually have known disabilities.  Shouldn’t it be that way in the work place as well?  Effectively and capably completing the position responsibilities should outshine any inconsequential disabilities.

Here are the facts:

  • The prevalence of persons with disabilities is between 13 and 16% of the population.
  • Only 21% of persons with disabilities aged 18–64 are employed full- or part-time.
  • Over 10 million unemployed persons with disabilities are seeking employment.
  • People with disabilities are the largest single minority group in the U.S.
  • Half of the persons with disabilities need no accommodation at all, and those required are inexpensive.
  • A 30-year DuPont study revealed job performance by workers with disabilities was equal to or better than fully functioning peers
  • Employees with disabilities have a 90% above-average safety and attendance records—far above the norm.
  • The Work Incentives Improvement Act enables persons with disabilities to retain their Medicaid benefits after obtaining private employment, thereby eliminating the concern that insurance costs will rise.
  • Disability is a part of life.  It is experienced by almost everyone, at some point in their life.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this, if it was you, wouldn’t you want an employer to give you a chance?

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