Inclusive Hiring Practices to Attract People with Disabilities

Woman at a computer with a form showing on screen

Successful companies know that a variety of diverse perspectives help maintain their competitive edge. Diversity is a popular buzzword among human resources professionals, but people with disabilities are frequently overlooked. Many companies fall short on inclusive hiring of people with disabilities (PWD) because of the misconception that making the required accommodations will be cost-prohibitive. In reality, 60% of accommodations cost nothing, and the rest often cost under $500 per employee with a disability- a small price to pay to hire and retain a good employee.

Be known for your culture of accessibility

Develop a culture of accessibility within your company. Make it known both internally and externally that your company values people with disabilities and makes every effort to be accommodating. Company accessibility policies should be carefully thought out and enforced, and widely known within the company. Encourage employees to be comfortable asking for whatever accommodations they may need, and make sure resources are available to meet those accommodations.  For example, include a place in your hiring materials for people to request accommodations. Make accessibility its own “brand” within the company to promote inclusive hiring. 

Build Community Relationships

Build relationships with outside organizations to better connect to people with disabilities. They can help the company identify a candidate with disabilities who would be suitable for available positions. Some organizations can help train people for jobs, such as Goodwill or Easterseals.  Online job boards specifically targeted towards people with disabilities can also help companies reach diverse candidates. Work with colleges’ offices of disability services to help identify graduating students who may be well suited for the job position.

Make the hiring process accessible

Inclusive hiring means that every part of the hiring process should be accessible to everyone, from the job posting to the interview process to new hire onboarding procedures. Post new job openings on accessible job boards. Additionally, ensure that your website’s job posting page is also accessible. Allow candidates to specify how they would like to receive communication from you- by phone, text, email, etc. If an in-person interview is required, be sure the interview environment is accessible for those using a cane, walker, crutches, guide dog, wheelchair or other mobility aids. Provide onboarding materials in whatever format the new employee can access. For many, accessible digital formats typically work best (as opposed to paper training materials).  Digital formats can be used with assistive technology for those who are blind or have low vision.

Use accurate job descriptions

Aside from the hiring process being accessible, the job description should be accurate and efficient. Many companies feel that they are “covering their bases” by automatically adding requirements like “must be able to lift 25 lbs” or “must have own car” as part of a job description. However, if those things are not actually necessary to complete the tasks required of the job they become unnecessarily limiting.

Does your administrative assistant or marketing coordinator actually need to lift 25 pounds unassisted on a regular basis? Probably not. And on the occasion that they do, could they ask for assistance in some way? If so, it’s probably not necessary to include that in the job description. If by asking whether a candidate owns their own car you simply want to know if they have reliable transportation, just ask whether they have reliable transportation. There are many ways to get to work that don’t include owning or driving a car. Many very capable people do not drive. 

Measure job skills, not interview skills

Structure interview processes so they focus on the individual’s actual ability to complete job-related tasks, not just “interview.” Does your interview process center on a candidate’s ability to succinctly answer abstract questions without preparing? Or is the candidate given the opportunity to actually demonstrate their ability to complete job tasks? Many very skilled and capable candidates lack interpersonal communication skills and may not interview well. Be sure your interview process gives candidates the opportunity to demonstrate job skills, not just social skills. 

Offer flexible work environment 

In this day and age, workers can easily perform many jobs from anywhere with WIFI, at any time of the day or night. Provide employees the flexibility to work remotely on a flexible schedule, which will allow employees to deal with health concerns, attend to personal appointments, and work in an environment that allows them to be most productive. Flexibility also contributes to employee retention- nearly one-third of workers have looked for a new job because their current workplace didn’t offer flexible work options. Nearly 80% of surveyed employees said workplace flexibility would allow them to lead a healthier life. 

Measure your ROI for corporate buy-in

Increase executive support for a diverse hiring policy by providing statistics about how a workforce that includes people with disabilities benefits the company. Many companies find that employees with disabilities stay in jobs longer and have fewer scheduled absences. Companies that employ people with disabilities also report as much as 30% higher revenue than those who do not. That kind of measurable increase would easily cause company leaders to take notice and invest in inclusive hiring programs.

Check out these resources to help your company hire a more diverse workforce:

Need help figuring out how to make your hiring process more accessible? Contact us!

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Nina Overdorff

Nina comes to Onix with years of sales and marketing experience from a variety of industries, and holds a BS in Language Arts Education. Nina has a passion for words, storytelling, and information, which she believes everyone should have access to regardless of ability. After spending time as a teacher with a blind student, she became much more aware of the limitations and abilities of web accessibility, and how essential it is to those experiencing disabilities. “Being able to access information equally ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity for education, employment, and success in life.”