Many organisations are working to hire more people with disabilities. Some have quotas or targets, others have procedures in place as they try to increase the numbers of people with disabilities in their workforce. A few organisations now have disability action plans outlining recruitment measures and processes as they work on building and retaining staff with disabilities.
As I’ve spoken to organisations over the last year I’ve heard many views on hiring people with disabilities. On why it should happen, and about why it might be difficult. I’ve also been asked to advise on disability action plans and trouble shoot recruitment and retention strategies. Every organisation is different, but it seems there are some stark similarities when it comes to disability recruitment.
Why is your organisation hiring people with disabilities, what is the purpose behind it? Here are 6 reasons that I heard in 2017:
- It’s the right thing to do
- People with disabilities have a right to independence
- We have an employment quota set by the Minister
- Our competitors are all doing it, so we’ve set a target too
- Its good for the confidence of people with disabilities to work
- We have diversity targets, so we should be doing this
These are all reasons why you shouldn’t be hiring people with disabilities.
Sure, you should be doing the right thing, and you should be concerned about the independence and confidence of people with disabilities. You should also have diversity targets, and even quotas for disability employment. Keeping up with competitor’s ways of doing business is very important, but is it really a very good reason to hire anyone?
Notice something else about these reasons?
They are mostly about how you behave towards people with disabilities, or about improving social outcomes. In some cases, they are statements about people with disabilities needing assistance or requiring a start in life. None of these statements is a good recruitment strategy, and none will ensure long term retention of people.
Would you want to be hired for these reasons? Would you feel valued in your workplace if this was why you were there? Would you feel like an equal team member?
Would you be open about your disability in a workplace that hired for these reasons?
So, why should you be hiring people with disabilities?
- Diverse teams solve problems faster, up to twice as fast.
- Diversity is very good for your business bottom line
- People with disabilities are more innovative
You should be hiring people with disabilities because it’s good for business. Because your organisation will be more efficient, and it will improve your bottom line. You should be hiring people with disabilities because you want to improve your innovation and problem-solving capacity, and through that improve your bottom line. You should hire people with disabilities because you want to increase your general competitiveness rankings by having a team that solves problems faster and is more innovative.
It’s not about the right thing to do – it’s about building a more robust organisation that can respond to issues with greater agility, by building better solutions faster, and more efficiently. It’s about wanting people with disabilities on your team because they contribute substantially to the outcomes your business or organisation is working towards.
Without people with disabilities you are missing out on a large part of the diversity equation and the benefits which diversity brings. Hire people with disabilities because you value what they contribute, and hire them because they will deliver what your business needs. Hire people with disabilities because its good for business and will build a better future. Hire people with disabilities because you can’t afford not to in an increasingly competitive environment which puts a high value on innovation.
More importantly, make sure you have people with disabilities guiding your organisation and making some of its key decisions. You need people with disabilities in your leadership team to really get the most from having a diverse workforce, and you need leaders with disabilities because it will help to shape your organisation more innovatively for the future.
Need help: The Disability Leadership Institute provides consulting services to organisations wanting to improve their diversity outcomes. Contact us today.
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