The global business landscape is rapidly evolving, with inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of successful organizations—and disability inclusion is emerging as a critical aspect. As a team of experts with decades of experience in disability hiring, we understand the unique value that individuals with disabilities contribute to the workforce. This experience has led us to compile key reasons why hiring people with disabilities isn’t just a socially responsible act and a strategic advantage for businesses.
Why should you hire people with disabilities?
More than you may think, there are several benefits of hiring people with disabilities.
1. Access to a Loyal and Skilled Talent Pool
Employee turnover significantly affects productivity, as the resources devoted to replacing departing employees could otherwise support core business activities. Individuals with disabilities often seek stable, long-term employment, leading to higher retention rates and lower organizational turnover.
NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration is a prime example of the transformative impact of an inclusive workforce. Their initiatives, such as collaborating with the Wounded Warrior Project to recruit veterans with disabilities and hosting Disability Mentoring Day, demonstrate their commitment to disability inclusion. Their partnership with the Zero Gravity Corporation, aimed at advancing disability inclusion in space exploration, further underscores this commitment.¹
These efforts, including testing designs for coworkers who are blind, sighted, or hard-of-hearing, have cultivated an inclusive culture aligned with NASA’s values of equality, attracting top talent from diverse backgrounds and enhancing the agency’s overall excellence.
2. Enhanced Profit Margins
While there has been a notable improvement in the employment rate of people with disabilities, increasing from 19.1 percent in 2021 to 21.3 percent in 2022, a significant gap exists when compared to the 65.4 percent employment rate of those without disabilities in the same year. This gap, highlighted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, underscores a considerable, yet largely untapped, potential in the labor market.²
Accenture’s analysis further supports this, suggesting that even a one percent increase in the employment of individuals with disabilities could boost the U.S. GDP by up to $25 billion, illustrating the substantial economic impact of inclusive hiring practices.³
Accenture disability hiring research also shows that companies leading in disability inclusion have outperformed their peers financially. Specifically, these companies have seen 1.6 times more revenue and 2.6 times more net income, highlighting the economic benefits of inclusive hiring practices.⁴
3. Cost-Effective Accommodations
Contrary to common misconceptions, accommodations for employees with disabilities are typically low-cost. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) found that these accommodations often require a one-time expenditure of $500 or nothing.⁵ JAN’s findings further revealed that such accommodations save businesses money by reducing insurance, compensation, turnover, and training costs while increasing productivity, retention, and company attendance.
4. Boosted Workplace Morale and Overall Employment Engagement
Inclusive workplaces that actively engage and support individuals with disabilities can profoundly enhance the overall work environment. This is exemplified in a study published in the Journal of Work-Applied Management, which explored the effects of a disability-inclusive mindset in a biotechnology firm. The study highlighted that such inclusivity not only boosts morale across the workforce but also contributes positively to organizational performance.⁶
When employees see their company making real efforts towards inclusivity, it enhances their sense of belonging and job satisfaction, contributing to higher productivity levels.
Related article: The String that Binds Employee Engagement to Employee Retention
5. Access to Tax Credits and Incentives
Hiring individuals with disabilities offers businesses financial benefits through tax credits and incentives aimed at encouraging the employment of persons with disabilities and offsetting costs for creating an accessible and inclusive workplace. Key among these is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which provides a federal tax credit to employers who hire individuals from certain groups, including those with disabilities. This credit starts from $2,400, or 40 percent of first-year wages, depending on the employee and the duration of their employment.⁷
Additionally, the Disabled Access Credit is available for small businesses, offering up to $5,000 to support costs associated with making premises ADA-compliant.⁸ These incentives play a crucial role in not only supporting the employment of individuals with disabilities but also in helping businesses manage the expenses related to necessary accommodations and modifications, thereby enhancing workplace accessibility and inclusivity for all employees.
6. Increased Workplace Safety
Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that individuals with disabilities in the workplace often possess a heightened awareness and conscientiousness regarding safety.⁹ This increased vigilance is attributed to factors like a developed sense of spatial awareness and meticulous attention to detail, skills honed through navigating various environments.
A vigilant approach to safety can result in fewer accidents and injuries, reducing associated costs for businesses, such as workers’ compensation and lost productivity due to time off. Hiring individuals with disabilities contributes to a diverse and inclusive workforce and promotes a safety culture that benefits all employees.
7. Improved Innovation and Creativity
Hiring individuals with disabilities brings a unique dynamic to the workplace, especially fostering innovation and creativity. Employees with disabilities often come with different life experiences and viewpoints, offering fresh, sometimes unconventional, problem-solving approaches.
This diversity in thought enriches the brainstorming process and can lead to groundbreaking innovations. In fact, the Center for Talent Innovation’s research underscores this, showing that companies with diverse abilities in their teams are significantly more likely to be leaders in market innovation.¹⁰
Such diversity in the workforce encourages a culture of thinking outside the box, essential for any business striving to stay ahead in today’s competitive market.
8. Improved Company Image and Brand Reputation
The positive impact of hiring people with disabilities extends to a company’s public image and brand reputation. In a world where consumers increasingly value corporate social responsibility, embracing inclusivity can significantly boost a company’s standing. According to a study by Cone Communications, 87 percent of consumers prefer to buy from companies that advocate for issues they care about.¹¹
This trend suggests that companies demonstrating a genuine commitment to diversity, including disability inclusion, are more likely to garner customer loyalty and trust, reflecting positively on their brand.
Disability Inclusion vs. Disability Hiring: Similar Goals, Different Approaches
The essence of both disability inclusion and disability hiring is rooted in the shared objective of integrating individuals with disabilities into the workplace.
Disability hiring is a specific, actionable component within the wider inclusion spectrum. It zeroes in on recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding individuals with disabilities. This process involves proactively identifying and attracting candidates with disabilities, making the hiring process accessible, and seamlessly integrating these new hires into the organizational fabric.
Disability inclusion, on the other hand, transcends mere hiring practices. It involves cultivating an environment where disabled employees are present and feel genuinely valued, supported, and treated equally. This comprehensive approach includes ensuring physical accessibility, providing appropriate accommodations, nurturing an inclusive and accepting culture, and creating professional growth and development opportunities.
Disability hiring is a definitive step toward building a diverse workforce, but without a strategic approach to inclusion, it may fall short of creating a truly empowering environment.
LET GALT FOUNDATION BE YOUR PARTNER IN BUILDING A MORE INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE WORKFORCE
As a mission-driven nonprofit, we specialize in providing supportive employment services to ensure the successful placement of people with disabilities. Connect with us today to explore the untapped potential of this exceptional candidate pool.
1 Bardan, Roxana. “NASA Trio Take Flight in Support of Disability Inclusion in Space” NASA, 16 Dec. 2022, https://www.nasa.gov/people-of-nasa/diversity-at-nasa/missionequity/nasa-trio-take-flight-in-support-of-disability-inclusion-in-space/.
2 “Persons With a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics — 2022” U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/disabl.pdf.
3 “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage” Accenture, 2018, https://www.accenture.com/content/dam/accenture/final/a-com-migration/pdf/pdf-89/accenture-disability-inclusion-research-report.pdf.
4 “Companies that Lead in Disability Inclusion Outperform Peers Financially, Reveals New Research from Accenture” Accenture, 27 Nov. 2023, https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/2023/companies-that-lead-in-disability-inclusion-outperform-peers-financially-reveals-new-research-from-accenture.
5 “Costs and Benefits of Accommodation” JAN (Job Accommodation Network), 4 May 2023, https://askjan.org/topics/costs.cfm.
6 Ochrach, Chase, et al. “Case Study on the Effects of a Disability Inclusive Mindset in a Large Biotechnology Company.” Journal of Work-Applied Management, vol. 14, no. 1, 5 April 2022, https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JWAM-06-2021-0045/full/html.
7 “Tax benefits of making a business accessible to workers and customers with disabilities” IRS, 9 Dec. 2021, https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-benefits-of-making-a-business-accessible-to-workers-and-customers-with-disabilities.
8 Shrove Jenna. “Employer Guide To Tax Credits For Hiring Employees With Disabilities” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 25 Aug. 2022, https://www.uschamber.com/workforce/employer-guide-to-tax-credits-for-hiring-employees-with-disabilities.
9 Bonaccio, Silvia, et. al. “The Participation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace Across the Employment Cycle: Employer Concerns and Research Evidence” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 22 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7114957/.
10 Sherbin, Laura. “Disabilities and Inclusion: US Findings” Center for Talent Innovation, Accessed 17 Dec. 2023, https://www.talentinnovation.org/_private/assets/DisabilitiesInclusion_KeyFindings-CTI.pdf.
11 “Cone Communications CSR Study”, Cone Communications, 2017, https://conecomm.com/2017-csr-study.