How to Prevent Disability Discrimination

 

How much consideration have you put into the possibility of disability discrimination within your company culture? Disabled workers are often employed in industries that are customer-forward (such as restaurants), or were entry-level or the least senior among their colleagues. This tells us that disabled workers are less likely to hold management positions and struggle to find jobs to begin with, regardless of their skill-level. Disability discrimination is at play here.

Unfortunately, once the obligatory information goes into the employee handbook, the conversation about disability discrimination often ceases. But it is a very real problem and employers need to be much more proactive in combating it. It takes more effort than what is legally required of them to create both a physically AND mentally safe workspace for their staff.

 

How to combat the stigma

 

Employers need to take a hard look at their hiring practices:

 

  1. Are the policies that are supposed to protect the rights of candidates being followed?
  2. What preconceptions might hiring managers have that may contribute to stigmas regarding disabilities? It’s likely necessary to provide training for all employees, not just management, in order to address and correct any stigmas present in the company. Education is the most powerful tool an employer can use in preventing disability discrimination.
  3. Keep the conversation going. A consistent dialogue about diversity and inclusion with employees is an excellent way to support initiatives. If employees feel welcomed to make accommodation requests and to be vocal about any disabilities they may have, the company culture will be stronger.
  4. Remember that employee may not feel comfortable speaking up, at least initially. Therefore it’s important for an employer to be cognizant that an employee might keep a disability secret for fear of being stigmatized. Employers should make policy decisions that assumes some employees need additional support, even if it’s not obvious at the time. Both employee and employer benefit from a workplace that acknowledges and encourages a diverse workforce.

 

Being able to identify discriminatory practices and mindsets in staff is crucial in not only protecting employee’s legal rights but also in ensuring the workplace is a safe space for everyone. If you’re feeling unsure how to go about recognizing weak points, the experienced HR team at Eos HR can help. We make sure small business teams are successful in maintaining the practices that support a productive company culture. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

Disability Hiring Belongs in Your Diversity Initiative

 

We know that profitable businesses are built on a workplace that is diverse, comprised of talented people from a wide array of backgrounds who bring their unique perspectives and experiences to projects, and successfully develop relevant and lasting solutions. These diverse teams should include the disabled. But oftentimes, they do not.

A 2018 report by Accenture found that employers who included disability hiring in their diversity initiatives experienced higher productivity and lower turnover. This makes a survey by the Kessler Foundation from around the same time puzzling. They discovered that only about 28% of companies with diversity hiring goals included disability hires. Why is this segment of the population so strikingly overlooked?

It’s likely due to a number of factors, from employers being unfamiliar with the broad scope of diversity hires, the stigma attached to disabled workers, and simply not knowing the resources to utilize when hiring disabled people.  We’ll visit the stigma issue in a future blog. This week we’re sharing the resources employers should tap into for including disability hiring in their diversity initiatives.

 

How to advance disability inclusion

 

What is disability inclusion? Simply put, it is the active recruitment of disabled workers as part of a company’s diversity initiative (and if you need a refresher on how to develop one of those, visit our previous blog A Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace).

Here are some excellent resources to help employers do just that.

 

  1. This Department of Labor webpage not only shares the organizations employers can partner with for disability hiring but also legal resources such as information within the Disability Act and tax credit materials.
  2. Every region is likely to have a Vocational Rehabilitation Agency that serves as an outreach and support center for disabled workers. Partnering with these agencies is an excellent way to find skilled talent.
  3. Veteran agencies. Much like a Vocational Rehab agency, these organizations support Veterans returning to the workforce and make for excellent partnerships.

 

This list of resources should give you a sense of direction for making improvement to your diversity initiative program. If you’re still feeling unsure on how to start, we can help! Eos HR is a team of HR professionals partnering with small businesses to implement smart solutions to meet challenges, large or small. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

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