There are many steps to implementing a successful disability inclusion program, from understanding the business benefits to building an inclusive culture to finding and retaining talent. Whether you’re learning about disability inclusion for the first time, preparing to present a case for inclusion to your company, or well on your way but looking for deeper understanding, we have tools and resources to support you. Get started by exploring the phases of disability inclusion below and discovering key steps you can take in our Quick Start Guide.
Making the Business Case
Planning Your Disability Inclusion Initiative
Building an Inclusive Culture
To build a strong disability inclusion program, you’ll need leadership buy-in. That means building the case for why inclusion is good for your company—not just a good thing to do.
One in four American adults has a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But people with disabilities are employed at a much lower rate than their peers without disabilities. That means employers are overlooking a large group of qualified candidates with a wide range of talents and skills.
The benefits of disability inclusion don’t stop when you’ve found the right hire. Companies with strong disability inclusion programs see lower turnover, better safety records, and higher rates of productivity. And the same things that help employees with disabilities to thrive tend to help all employees to thrive—which means everyone can do their best work.
It’s no surprise that more and more companies are starting disability inclusion programs. Inclusion is a solid business strategy for building and maintaining a strong, effective workforce.
Recruiting, Screening, and Interviewing Top Talent
Onboarding and Training
People with disabilities can fill jobs at all levels of your company. But this pool of applicants can be hard to reach. To avoid missing out on strong candidates, you need to make your entire hiring process inclusive.
Start with job descriptions. To catch all candidates, only list requirements that are essential to the position. Provide hiring forms and materials in different formats, such as braille and large print. Develop assessments that focus on key skills. And give alternate ways to do activities that are part of your hiring process.
Traditional staffing sources don’t always tap into applicants with disabilities. But the Workplace Initiative can support you in building a pipeline of dedicated candidates with disabilities. One step you can take is to reach out to local groups that support people with disabilities in finding full-time jobs.
With a little extra effort, you can make your hiring process inclusive and fill positions with the best people for the jobs.
Disclosure and Self-Identification
Support and Accommodations
Performance Management, Advancement, and Retention
In the United States, one adult in four has a disability. For the vast majority of them, it’s an invisible disability like ADHD or chronic health issue like diabetes. So, they have to decide whether to tell people at work. Most people, however, don’t disclose that they have a disability. In fact, some don’t realize that they have a condition that falls within the ADA’s very broad definition of disability. This means you are likely already employing people with disabilities and you don’t know it.
Disclosure refers to the decision to share information personally about your disability with others, whether it’s your HR manager, supervisor, or co-worker. Companies can better support their employees if they know what supports, adjustments, or accommodations employees need to be successful. Plus, studies show that people who disclose are more than twice as likely to feel regularly happy at work than people who don’t disclose.
Another way that employees make it known they have a disability is self-identification. This refers to checking the box in response to an employer’s formal invitation to identify yourself as a person with a disability in order to collect data. It’s voluntary, confidential, and often anonymous.
Disability law requires federal contractors and subcontractors to invite employees and applicants to self-identify. And some companies with hiring goals related to disability are choosing to formally do it, as well.
There are steps your company can take to encourage employees to disclose or self-identify. The first step is to send a clear message that you value people with disabilities. Senior leaders can talk about their own disabilities. Provide disability inclusion training. You can also create an awareness campaign about the importance of self-identifying. Creating an overall inclusive culture is your best bet in encouraging disclosure and self-identification.
Disability inclusion is about more than hiring people with disabilities—it’s about creating a workplace where all employees can thrive.
Brad Nardick was always interested in building “purposeful work” into his family-run business, he just didn't know how to get started.