Monday, January 21, 2008

A True Commitment to Hiring people with Disabilities

Most companies in corporate America have statements regarding their equal employment policy. It often goes something like this:

“Our Equal Employment policy is to identify, attract, retain, and advance the most qualified persons, without regard to their race, religion, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or veteran's status.”

While most companies have policies such as the one above, not all demonstrate a commitment to hiring people with disabilities. From my professional experience, I have yet to meet another individual in the consulting industry who has a visible disability (with the exception of people who wear glasses). This is within my firm and well as within several major Fortune 500 corporations (but bear in mind I haven’t met everyone in the firm).

Why is hiring and retaining people with disabilities so important for a company?
Diversity contributes to a company’s strength. The combination of unique skills, abilities, experiences and backgrounds creates an environment that produces extraordinary results. People with disabilities are an important component of fostering diversity and often bring an outside of the box thinking with them to their job since it is a way of thinking necessary for living with a disability every day.

How do I know if a company is committed to hiring people with disabilities?
When evaluating if a company is committed to hiring people with disabilities, consider the following:

  • Does the company partner with organizations focusing on disability? Relationships with organizations focusing on disability are a clear indication that a company is interested in recruiting people with disabilities. Partnerships serve as an avenue for a corporation to recruit talent within a pool of people with disabilities.
  • Does the company offer disability training and resources? Sensitizing employees to the capabilities of people with disabilities and the issues they face is critical. A company that offers employees diversity training on how to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities typically indicates a company’s commitment to ensure employment for people with disabilities is successful.
  • Does the firm have an Employee Resources Group or Task-Force geared specifically for people with disabilities? An Employee Resource Groups and/or a Task-Force facilitate and improve employee engagement on disability issues. Employee groups for employees with disabilities can help a company provide amenities to make people with disabilities feel welcome. These groups exist to help employees maximize opportunities to network and develop their careers, and to strengthen the company’s recruitment, retention, leadership development, and outreach for people with disabilities.

If you are a person with a disability, consider evaluating companies based on the above when exploring employment opportunities. If you are a supporter of people with disabilities and are currently employed, consider evaluating whether or not your firm does any of the above. If your firm doesn’t, consider challenging your firm to demonstrate its true commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

Feel free to email me with your thoughts or questions.

No comments: