In 2016, only 17.9 per cent of people with a disability were employed, compared to 65.3 per cent of non-disabled people. Hiring new candidates is always a risk. The wrong employee can make or break a company. For this reason, the selection process is seen as delicate, as it should be, but are employers being picky about the wrong traits? Candidates that have disabilities are often at a disadvantage based on first impressions. As a result, employers miss out on some of the most dedicated workers out there.
1. How can your company benefit from a more inclusive workforce?
Three out of four employers surveyed ranked their employees with disabilities as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with coworkers, dependability, and attendance
A candidate with a prosthetic limb might be the most dedicated computer programmer. A candidate with a brain injury might your most creative designer. A candidate with a disability might not even be the best in their field, they may simply be average but enthusiastic about proving their loyalty to the company, making them excellent candidates because you have a long-term relationship.
2. Are you prepared to make this process truly about the best candidate?
Many employers consider candidates with disabilities to be a risky choice. However, concerns for lack of consistency, professionalism, stamina, and capabilities are generally unfounded. Candidates with disabilities that have presented a resume and portfolio and made it to the interview have already proven themselves to be capable of the duties.
3. Are you mentally prepared for diverse candidates?
Employers need to identify their own feelings towards people with disabilities, ensuring that they set preconceptions aside and interview a candidate as a unique individual with a unique set of capabilities. A candidate who attends an interview in a wheelchair or with any other mobility aid or device may not give it a second thought, in the same way you may not give a pair of glasses a second thought. They’re just something that assist you with tasks throughout the day and don’t effect your performance levels. Ensure that there are no condescending tones or moments of surprise when you interview an incredibly capable and talented candidate.
4. Is your workplace welcoming and accessible?
More than just offering wheelchair access, ask a candidate with a disability what the company can do to support their ability to perform their duties if they are hired successfully. This is an important question, not only because it assures the candidate that they are heard and valued but also because you, as the employer, can calculate any added expenses expected of the company. Often, these candidates require only a few humble considerations and in return, pledge unyielding loyalty. Other times, they will require absolutely no additional requirements and make no more requests than their non-disabled colleagues.
5. Do you have preconceptions about the candidate you wish to find that may actually make you biased?
It’s natural to have preconceptions. When searching for a candidate, we have an idea in our minds of the type of person that would fit that role. Until employers begin to picture capabilities and personality traits over a particular image, inclusion will remain tokenistic, at best. Embrace the idea of the perfect marketing manager or CFO arriving in a wheelchair or with a prosthetic arm, for example. Accept the company’s most loyal administrative assistant might have Autism or a brain injury that still allows them to work meticulously.