Why Hire Disabled Workers

  • SOURCE: Article from The Huffington Post

    The disability community, from grassroots advocates to powerful cross-disability organizations, devotes a lot of time and energy to proving the value of hiring disabled workers. This is a common theme for our community, and extremely necessary, as there are a number of workforce-related challenges that workers with disabilities face. The unemployment rate for workers with disabilities is twice that of workers without disabilities. It is still legal for workers with disabilities to be paid well below the minimum wage based on a law that dates back to 1936, when the talents and potential of workers with disabilities were even more horribly misunderstood. And of course, while the Americans with Disabilities Act provides vital protections to the disabled workforce, it can’t solve every issue in the disabled workforce, such as the systemic problem of feweropportunities for advancement for workers with disabilities.

    One theme we commonly hear when discussing disability (or any minority) employment is that it is the right thing to do. Providing equal opportunity is providing equal rights; it’s moral and ethical. However, from the perspective of businesses that perpetuate discrimination in their hiring and retention of workers with disabilities, this message doesn’t seem to be enough.

    What if we looked at disability employment from a business perspective instead of from an advocacy perspective? There are many businesses that are leading the way in promoting an inclusive workplace, businesses that are proud of the advancements they have made in hiring workers with disabilities. Why are they so passionate about hiring disabled workers?

    With this question in mind, I reached out to companies that are not only some of the most successful businesses in the country, but are also recognized as being the most inclusive of disability in hiring, retention, and promotion. These businesses are all Fortune 1000 companies that scored 100 points on the US Business Leadership Network’s (USBLN) Disability Equality Index (DEI). I asked them two questions: “How do recruiting, retaining, and promoting employees with disabilities make good business sense? How do they improve a business’s productivity and profitability?” Here’s who they are and what they had to say:

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