Low expectations, stigmas and discriminatory preconceived notions about capabilities have long limited opportunities for persons with disabilities. In recent years, however, there has been much dialogue and activism focused on changing this culture of fear and misrepresentation.
Here’s why hiring people with disabilities is a win-win.
An Untapped Gold Mine Of Talent
According to Statista, South Africa’s 2021 unemployment rate has increased from 28,5% in 2020. Skilled employees are needed now more than ever as we try to rescue our Covid-19-ravaged economy.
Many people with disabilities have skills companies need and overlooking this vast resource pool means that everyone loses.
Time and research have proved that companies that embrace inclusivity and diversity see enormous benefits. It’s a win-win situation.
“Those with disabilities often look at business problems differently and bring innovative thinking to new products and customer service.” Mary Dale Walters
The Numbers Speak For Themselves
According to a business.com article, “a study by Accenture, in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities, reports that businesses that actively seek to employ people with disabilities outperform businesses that do not”.
These businesses reported 28% higher revenues, doubled net incomes and profit margins up to 30% higher. And the benefits are not just about the bottom line.
The US Department of Labour revealed that employers who embraced disability saw “a 90% increase in employee retention”. While these are figures from the US, there is no reason that local companies will not see the same benefits, because the advantages of hiring people with disabilities are universal.
Indeed & Careers24 shared a study entitled Employing people with disabilities in South Africa. It revealed that hiring people with disability leads to greater consumer support. “Consumers favour [companies that employ people with disabilities] and thus provide them with more business.”
Diversity Drives Innovation
“People with disabilities can be great assets to companies and can assist in strengthening the diversity of the workforce,” says Careers24, adding that: “Diversity and inclusion is about diversity of thought, background, experience, and abilities – among other things. This is the kind of diversity that drives innovation.”
Mary Dale Walters, senior vice president at Allsup, a US Social Security Disability Insurance company agrees: “Hiring people with disabilities is a win for everyone involved. Those with disabilities often look at business problems differently and bring innovative thinking to new products and customer service.”
How To Create An Inclusive, Diverse Company Culture
Accenture offers this advice on how to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment:
1. Hire people with disabilities
2. Enable all employees to perform their job to their fullest abilities
3. Engage with awareness building, disability education programmes and grassroots efforts for employees
4. Empower by offering mentor and mentee opportunities, implement skills-building programmes, and make space for diverse talent to hold roles at all levels
It’s clear that businesses will benefit from a commitment to inclusivity, and of course, the differently abled will benefit too.
As Diane Elizabeth, CEO of Skincare Ox told Business.com: “Not utilising talented individuals because they might need accommodations is a serious issue. Focus on what the person can do for the company.”