As a staffing agency that provides, promotes, and expands employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, Galt Foundation seeks to raise awareness regarding the pervasive issue of unemployment for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and offer valuable tips for organizations looking to diversify their workforce.
As of 2019, “only 19.3 percent of persons with a disability were employed,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, approximately 6.5 million Americans live with intellectual or developmental disabilities, which can be defined as a group of conditions that result in physical, learning, language, or behavioral impairments. Intellectual and developmental disabilities include, but are not limited to, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism.
Organizations can help combat the unemployment issue by promoting a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Read on for insights and tips for hiring people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and learn how they can be an asset to your team.
Why Aren’t Companies Hiring People with Developmental Disabilities?
In 2019, USA Today stated that “the unemployment rate for those with intellectual disabilities remains far higher than the broader workforce.” Many of these individuals face difficulties obtaining meaningful jobs and becoming active participants in their communities.
Employer attitudes and misconceptions about their abilities can act as barriers for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities when they try to secure a job. Many employers feel unsure how to include people with intellectual or developmental disabilities into their workforce.
Contrary to the misconceptions, however, job seekers with intellectual or developmental disabilities are capable of being highly productive and represent a vast pool of talent that has gone untapped.
What Are the Benefits of Employing People with Developmental Disabilities?
Data from a study of more than 200 organizations in the U.S. showed that three-quarters or more of employers rated employees with disabilities as good to very good on performance factors, including work quality and productivity. Nearly three-quarters of these companies reported a positive experience, while a full one-third of high-performance companies stated that their experience exceeded their expectations.
One of the study participants was Silicon Valley Bank, whose staffing manager at the time stated, “From a productivity standpoint, our employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities are highly attentive, eager, and earnest about applying themselves.”
Hiring people with intellectual or developmental disabilities can also lead to a more positive work environment and increase team building, employee attitudes and perspectives, and diversity and inclusion.
Beyond the Employer
When organizations hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the employees benefit as well.
These individuals gain an opportunity to contribute and achieve in their community, which helps increase their confidence and independence. They also get the chance to develop other skills and abilities, such as communicating and interacting with the public. Overall, employment positively affects their mental health and morale.
Happy individuals make for dedicated employees who are excited to come to work.
How Can Employers Tap Into This Talent Pool?
There are numerous ways for companies to make their organization more inclusive.
Foster a Culture of Inclusivity
In order to build a more diverse workforce, businesses can build a culture of inclusion.
Available training can give current employees and management a better understanding of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through training, they can address their misconceptions and learn how to engage and communicate effectively with employees with disabilities.
Employers can embed more diverse and inclusive language in their job postings, overall values, and everyday tasks. This shows job seekers that the company is an equal opportunity employer and also makes job postings more appealing. Inclusive language on each job posting makes potential employees with disabilities feel seen and appreciated.
Provide Accessibility & Support at Work
When hiring individuals with disabilities, successful companies ensure that the job is structured for the success of the individual. All employees have unique strengths and needs. For employees with developmental disabilities, this is true as well. As a team, the employee and manager can work together to make sure that the role fits both of their needs.
If needed by the individual, employers can provide job accommodations. Some examples of accommodations include flexible work schedules, work devices, and additional training. According to a study by the University of Maryland, which looked at employers’ top 10 factors for successful accommodations outcomes, there are numerous benefits for providing these types of accommodations, including maximized employee performance.
Galt Foundation offers this type of support for our clients and field staff. When working with our clients, we help them build a strong, defined culture that enables them to successfully hire staff and foster a diverse team of employees. For our job seekers, Galt gets to know their unique skills, abilities, and circumstances and then finds placements at organizations that are best suited to accommodate their needs so that they can learn, grow, succeed, and enjoy financial independence.
Implement HR Policies & Procedures
When developing a diverse and inclusive culture, it is also important for companies to uphold a safe and respectful environment for all employees.
Organizations with robust policies in place help prevent harassment or inappropriate behavior towards employees with disabilities by having clear guidelines and reporting procedures.
Building a Diverse & Inclusive Workforce with Galt
Galt is dedicated to developing and growing your workforce with suitable employees of all backgrounds.
If your organization is looking to build a more inclusive workforce, or if you are an individual with a disability who needs help finding employment – or if you know of someone who is – feel free to get in touch with the friendly associates at Galt Foundation. You can reach us here or call us at 1-877-361-1277, and we would be more than happy to help.