Dec 16, 2020
This year, challenging as it has been, has afforded individuals with disabilities the opportunity to celebrate several major milestones: July marked 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and October was the 75th anniversary of Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Unfortunately, against this backdrop of historical success, data from the National Organization on Disability indicates that nearly 1 million people with disabilities lost their jobs between the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and July 2020. Historically, individuals with disabilities are one of the first groups to be laid off or have their hours cut, and this year many were compelled to stop working due to the various health risks posed by the virus.
The pandemic has touched the lives of all Americans, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 5 workers with disabilities lost employment, compared with 1 in 7 workers in the general population.
While employment statistics for this group have improved over the years, there is still a great deal more that employers can do to promote diversity and inclusion in their workplaces, especially considering only 13% of employers have reached the 7% target set by the U.S. Department of Labor for federal contractors hiring individuals with disabilities.
Increasing this percentage will benefit employers and employees alike, so keep reading for the top three reasons to hire more individuals with disabilities in 2021.
1) Investing in diversity leads to financial gains
According to a 2018 report published by Accenture, companies that prioritized the inclusion of individuals with disabilities were four times more likely to outperform their competitors in shareholder returns, and have, on average 28% higher revenue, double the net income and 30% higher profit margins.
Research also shows that companies that employ a more diverse workforce, including individuals with disabilities, are also better positioned to attract and serve a more diverse customer base.
2) This community is an untapped workforce and a valuable resource
People with disabilities are often overlooked because of the stigma that comes along with their disabilities, but employers who abandon these stereotypes will gain highly skilled employees with substantial motivation to exceed expectations. Not only are these individuals eager and willing to take on a variety of employment opportunities, many of them have valuable skill sets to offer, stemming from their diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Here at Allsup, we work with many former workers with disabilities, and more than half have expressed their desire to return to work once they have recovered. Companies that offer them the chance to do so are likely to reap the benefits of this larger applicant pool, which offers a wider range of perspectives, backgrounds, and skills, and to become more innovative as a result.
3) Individuals with disabilities are loyal workers
Employee turnover is the bane of every company’s existence, but the Department of Labor found that employers who supported those with disabilities saw a 90% increase in employee retention. That is because offering reasonable accommodations is often significantly less costly than firing workers. In addition, insights from The Center for Financial Planning report show that diverse companies are more likely to retain talent, which has a direct financial correlation and leads to better overall job satisfaction, less money spent on recruitment, improvements in bottom line, and greater company-wide profitability.
Finding, hiring and retraining employees costs time, money and resources that would be better spent elsewhere. Even if the turnover rate isn’t particularly high, that same report found that a lack of diversity leads to lower productivity, higher absenteeism, and physical and mental health issues among employees.
There are still many challenges facing employers as we head into the new year, but overcoming the stigmas surrounding individuals with disabilities shouldn’t be one of them. Investing in this highly skilled and dedicated workforce will benefit all involved and places companies on the path to starting 2021 on the right foot.
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