There are three main reasons why you should start hiring people with disabilities as soon as possible. First of all, they are an amazing and massive talent pool and just because someone has a disability it doesn’t mean that they can’t contribute to your company and your brand as a whole. Second, it’s a program incentivized by the government, which may give your company a series of benefits. Finally, it’s an ethical thing to do, yet, other than this altruistic standpoint, it also makes you look good in the eyes of the public, which means that you get some PR benefits as well.
One extra point worth making is the fact that in order to make your workplace effective you need to keep it diverse and what better way to do so than to start hiring people with disabilities.
The infrastructural issue with this lies in the fact that you’ll put a lot of burden on your HR department. Why? Well, when hiring a diverse team (regardless if it’s people with disabilities that we’re talking about) you might need to introduce some new rules and changes into your business structure. As always, this is the responsibility of your HR. Overwhelming as this may sound, it’s always more than worth it. Still, in order to learn more, there are several duties that your HR department will have once you start hiring people with disabilities.
For starters, you need to understand that the very word disability poses as an umbrella term and that in order to create a truly diverse workplace you must first define it properly. What we’re talking about is the fact that both mobility impairment and the lack of ability to understand are treated as disabilities. The person who suffers from the first type of disability may still be able to work around hazardous machinery, while the person in the latter scenario may be unable to understand the risk of physical danger. All in all, even with best intentions on your side, it may be impossible for you to hire people with some particular disabilities, due to the nature of your business or your industry.
The first responsibility of your HR department lies in their obligation to set some core principles when it comes to the hiring process so that it’s as inclusive and fair as possible. The very basic principle (the one that is supposed to serve as the base for everything) needs to be an equality of opportunity for everyone. Sure, this may sound a bit cliché, yet, adhering to this and promoting it during your recruitment campaign is essential to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Other than this, you need to understand (as early as your hiring process) that the principle of fairness and equal opportunity doesn’t end with the hire. The development and promotion opportunity are just as important and the disabled person entering your employer needs to know that there’s no cap to how much they can advance in your company. Lastly and, perhaps, most importantly, the environment needs to be as supportive and encouraging as possible. The provision of services that your HR is in charge off needs to meet the current and potential needs of your staff. Just by making this statement, you’re already taking a huge leap forward towards fully diversifying your brand.
While there are some people who are sensitive about their disability, one thing that is universally true is the fact that people with disability dislike being treated like people with disabilities. Instead, they expect their co-workers to treat them as their peers, their employers to treat them like any other employees and their clients to treat like any other member of your staff. Although this may seem as something intuitive you would be surprised at how easily miscommunication can occur.
Effective communication with individuals who have disabilities still may require a bit of finesse. Finesse that your staff may not possess at the moment. This is why it might be worth your while to start collaborating with an organization like Behaviour Zen in order to develop a support staff strategy that works. Educating your employees will empower not only them but benefit your entire organization.
Previously, we talked about professional development and this, usually, involves training. A person entering your employ expects to grow professionally and by enabling this, you’re giving your employees and intrinsic motivation to work extra hard in order to generate value for your brand. When it comes to employees with disabilities, you might be expected to provide some alternative training materials or, at least, give them more time to master a certain skill. Needless to say, when it comes to acquiring these materials and setting these recommendations, it’s the job of your HR department.
Sometimes, you’ll just have to let people go and if you have people with disabilities in your employ, this might become a particular difficulty. Now, hiring a disabled person sounds wrong and there are numerous implications how this could turn into a proper PR disaster, yet, this is mostly a business world myth. You see, you’re not firing a person with a disability, you’re firing a disabled employee who is not performing well enough. This too is something that your HR department needs to prepare for, due to the fact that it’s a scenario that you’re bound to face sooner or later.
As you can see, while there are numerous benefits to hiring people with disabilities, this is not such an easy task and you must first be 100 per cent sure that your HR department can get the hang of it. Fortunately, even if this is not the case, through some basic training and restructuring of the department, you’ll be able to get there in no time. Also, bear in mind that your department does so much work, which is why any improvement that you make in this field might become a systemic improvement of your business as a whole.
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