Busting the Myths around Employment of Those with Disabilities

Busting the Myths around Employment of Those with Disabilities

I am so looking forward to our Solution Series discussion next week on the Employment of People with Disabilities. (See info below.) This exciting panel discussion is an opportunity for the business community to hear the compelling arguments about why it is not only a socially responsible practice to hire those with disabilities, but also why and how it is a proven boost to the bottom line.

There are some perceived myths about hiring those with disabilities. Those perceptions only add to the stigma that we spend every day here at Fedcap trying to dispel. Next week, we will be hearing more from business leaders about their own experience with increasing the bottom line based on their hiring of people with disabilities. Here are some of those perceptions and some realities that disprove those misconceptions:

Myth: “We need fast workers! The person with a disability will slow us down.”

The Reality: Those with disabilities are generally better able to solve problems—and quickly. They have had to navigate barriers that many of us don’t see. They have had to find short cuts, workarounds, and process improvements—many times just to perform daily tasks with ease.

Myth: “It will cost me too much to install expensive accommodations—way beyond ‘reasonable.’”

Reality: According to the President’s Job Accommodation Network Committee (courtesy of AMSVan), beyond employer-required ADA accommodation, most individuals with disabilities do not require special accommodation. Of those who do, 50% cost $500 or less, 12% cost between $501 and $1000, and 22% exceed $1000. These are small investments given the overall contribution to the bottom line.

Myth: “My workers’ comp payments will go way up.”

Reality: Actually, there is no difference in workers’ comp claims between those with disabilities and those without.

Myth: “Those with disabilities will call out sick more often.”

Reality: Statistically, there is no difference in absenteeism between those with or without disabilities.

Myth: “I can’t count on the job performance of those with disabilities.”

Reality: A Dupont survey of 2,745 employees with disabilities found that 92% of employees with disabilities rated average or better in job performance compared to 90% of employees without disabilities. Surveys by Walgreens, 3M, AT&T, Pepsico had similar findings.

Another reality about hiring those with disabilities is that employers, once leery about hiring, discover that as they get to know their employees and get to see the type of commitment and work that they do, they become champions of hiring those with disabilities. Part of the problem is lack of exposure to this segment of the workforce. My own experience bears out the statistics and realities I’ve outlined. Hiring those with disabilities isn’t just a socially responsible thing to do—but it contributes mightily to the culture and to the bottom line of any organization.

There’s still time to register for our Solution Series on the morning of October 3rd at the Mutual of America building on Park Avenue. Our roster of speakers represents business, government, and foundations all united in common commitment to educating employers about the benefits of hiring those with disabilities. This forum promises to be fascinating. I urge you to join us!

The Next Chapter in Business Innovation: Hiring Those with Disabilities

The Next Chapter in Business Innovation: Hiring Those with Disabilities

Hiring and engaging people with disabilities isn’t about being nice, or being charitable. It’s smart business that can positively impact your bottom line and your talent needs from the mailroom to the boardroom.

Kris Foss, Managing Director, Disability Solutions @Ability Beyond

On October 3rd, we will be hosting our 14th Solution Series—an initiative of our Community Impact Institute, which is the research and innovation arm of our work here at Fedcap. The Solution Series convenes business, thought leaders, academia, and policy makers to engage in a conversation about  issues affecting business in the 21stcentury .   From the conversations we have in this forum come ideas, systems, programs, and solutions. The Solution Series events are among the high points of our year.

This fall’s series is entitled Employment of People with Disabilities: Moving Beyond Social Responsibility to a Business Solution. I am particularly excited about this forum as it reflects the heart of our work here at Fedcap.   There are close to 40 million people in the U.S., about 12.6 percent of the population, living with a disability. These individuals – your sisters, brothers, neighbors, parents, friends and colleagues – can perform the same work as people without a disability. Yet as of May, 2016, the US Bureau of Labor cites that only 28.3 percent of working-age (16-64) persons with a disability were employed, compared to an employment rate of 72.3 percent for those without a disability in the same demographic. By not integrating people with disabilities more fully into the workforce, we are neglecting a source of energy, productivity and talent that could address the needs of business in the 21st century. The social and economic vitality of our nation is also impacted. The poverty rate for people with disabilities ages 21 to 64 is 28.8 percent – higher than any other demographic group – compared to 12.5 percent for individuals without a disability. Their average annual income is $38,300, $5000 less than their peers without disabilities.

But there is reason for optimism.  On our panel are national experts and business representatives who will highlight efforts being made across the country to significantly expand the number of people with disabilities who are employed.   The business case  for doing is strong.  Hiring people with disabilities reflects a clear commitment to creating a more diverse workforce which in turn delivers a better return for shareholders.  To not hire people with disabilities means missing out on an untapped pool of creative, educated, and experienced individuals who bring a critical perspective to the workplace. For example, generally speaking, people who are living with disabilities tend to bring with them an innovative mindset. Because they have had to navigate a world that is often not easily accessible, they have had an opportunity to build resilience. They have often worked hard to find solutions to a variety of challenges those without disabilities may have never considered. Kevin Cox, the Chief HR Officer at American Express, suggests that hiring people with disabilities is the “next frontier” in business. He believes—and has proof—that hiring those with disabilities has improved the overall culture of the organization and has clearly impacted the company’s bottom line.  This has been my experience as well.

There’s still time to join us for this informative, engaging, and important discussion.  Please click here to register for this timely event on October 3rd in Manhattan. I look forward to a great discussion and I hope to see you there.