The Americans with Disabilities Act & People with Disabilities
In the context of the workplace, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as, “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”
And according to The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), persons with disabilities:
- are one of the most prevalent minority groups in the country with more than 40 percent working age (defined as 18-64)
- the only minority group anyone can join during any point of life regardless of race, class, gender, religion, or education level
- are significantly less likely to be employed than those without disabilities (called the employment gap)
And while the ADA offers protections for persons with disabilities in the workplace, there are still misconceptions surrounding workers with disabilities-even though have the same skill level and opportunity potential as those without.
That’s why it’s important for employers to recognize the benefits that come with hiring employees with disabilities, and although there are many more, we are going to go over three of them below.
1. Expand Your Talent Pool
Sometimes it seems almost impossible to find qualified candidates for a position. But if you start recruiting individuals with disabilities, it expands your talent pool so that you can find better candidates.
And according to Work Without Limits, a network that aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities, “Individuals with disabilities represent an untapped candidate pool for businesses. Recruiting and retaining people with disabilities is one approach to counter the effects of the aging and shrinking workforce.”
2. Increase Your Loyal Workforce
People with disabilities want to work, and when they get the opportunity, they stay loyal. And according to a 2007 study from DePaul University, people with disabilities perform just the same as people without:
- Participants with disabilities from the retail and hospitality sectors stayed on the job longer than participants without disabilities.
- Across all sectors, participants with disabilities had fewer scheduled absences than those without disabilities.
- Retail participants with disabilities had fewer days of unscheduled absences than those without disabilities.
- Regardless of sector, participants with and without disabilities had nearly identical job performance ratings.
- The number of worker’s compensation claims of retail participants with and without disabilities were equivalent.
3. Diversity is Good for Business
As we’ve discussed before, diversity is good for business. When people who have diverse experiences work together, they can come up with creative solutions to problems because they have a better understanding of your customer base.
As an added bonus, people with disabilities have additional insight into your customers who have disabilities, which can help you tailor your products better. This is especially important in untapped markets where people with disabilities have not been focused on.
Plus, EARN reports, “Customers with disabilities and their families, friends, and associates represent a trillion dollar market segment. They, like other market segments, purchase products and services from companies that best meet their needs. A large number of Americans also say they prefer to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities.”
The Next Steps
Once you’ve hired more employees who have disabilities, it’s important that if they request accommodations, you can make them. Also, you will want to ensure that managers, supervisors and other employees receive ADA compliance training to help them understand their responsibilities under the laws.