Employers rarely consider disability as a form of diversity in employer diversity and inclusion strategies. Yet social and political expectations are increasing for businesses to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, even as they remain underrepresented in the workforce.¹
Recently, Gould, et al. (2020) analyzed 34 corporate social responsibility reports from organizations that are nationally recognized as leaders in their efforts toward disability inclusion. They identified several strategies organizations could use to attract and support people with disabilities:
- Provide training opportunities for management
- Practice inclusive and/or targeted recruiting strategies
- Invest in universal design for the physical space of the workplace
- Create disability-specific employee groups, such as employee resource and affinity groups
- Incorporate emerging best practices for disability inclusion
Here are some resources to help managers and employers implement these strategies to create a diverse and inclusive workplace that includes people with disabilities.
Provide Training Opportunities for Management
Companies that use best practices for employing and supporting people with disabilities in their workforces consistently outperform their peers, including having, on average, 28% higher revenue, double the net income, and 30% higher economic profit margins, according to the report Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.
Employers and managers can use these resources as a starting point to learn more:
- Disability Inclusion in the Workplace: Why It Matters - from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), U.S. Department of Labor
- Expressing a Commitment to Disability Inclusion - from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), U.S. Department of Labor
- On-Demand Training: Strategies to Identify and Support Businesses’ Hiring and Retention of Persons with Disabilities Webinar - from TACQE U.
Use Inclusive Recruiting Strategies
While research shows that people with disabilities make excellent employees, not all employers know how to effectively recruit, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities. This reference guide can help to increase workforce inclusion.
- Building an Inclusive Workforce – A 4-Step Reference Guide to Recruiting, Hiring, & Retaining Employees with Disabilities - from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor.
Implement Universal Design
Universal design is an approach that ensures that any environment, whether it be a workplace, schools, vocational rehabilitation, or the community broadly, is equally accessible for all — regardless of disability status. These resources offer training in universal design and specific ways it can be implemented and monitored to ensure maximum effectiveness and equal access for all.
- Universal Design and Accessibility - from Section508.gov
- Re-framing Workplace Inclusion Through the Lens of Universal Design - from TACQE
Establish and Maintain Employee Resource Groups
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are ways for people with similar backgrounds to connect and network within a business. This toolkit offers information on how to start, implement, and maintain disability-focused ERGs to support diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts in the workplace.
- A Toolkit for Establishing and Maintaining Successful Employee Resource Groups - from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), U.S. Department of Labor.
Use Emerging Best Practices for Disability Inclusion
This collection of best practices for disability inclusion showcases leading examples and promising practices. It is designed for all companies – from the company that is just starting their disability inclusion journey to leading practitioners.
- Best Practices for Fostering Diversity & Inclusion - from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, U.S. Department of Labor.
- Disability Equality Index (DEI) Best Practices Collection - from Disability:IN
More Helpful Resources
To learn more about how to implement disability inclusion practices in the workplace, please visit these websites:
- Employer Hub on TACQE.com
- Diversity and Inclusion, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy
- Disability Management Employer Coalition
- Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), U.S. Department of Labor
- Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor
- Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs, U.S. Department of Labor