Building an Inclusive Workforce: 5 Steps for Hiring People with Disabilities

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An inclusive workforce is a working environment that values individuals and harnesses the abilities of each individual, which enable a company to embrace different backgrounds and perspectives. 
Trillium Employment Services 

Building an inclusive workforce means hiring people from different backgrounds. It has several benefits including driving innovation, building community, increasing productivity and better quality of service. Just like race, sex, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and age, disability expands workforce diversity.

Yes, a diverse employee population includes people with disabilities too.

People with disabilities are a historically marginalized group. They are excluded in almost all facets of life including employment. Their level of inclusion in the workforce is lower than that of people without disabilities. This is in part due to the inaccessibility of the work environment and / or hiring process.

For this reason, employers need to ensure that the work environment and / or hiring process is accessible to increase the participation of persons with disabilities with disabilities. Below are 5 steps that employers can take towards doing this.

  1. Ensure that infrastructure is accessible

Employers need to ensure that their buildings and their layout are accessible and supportive of people with disabilities. This means that employers should ensure that is possible for people with disabilities to move in, out and around the workplace and do their job in that environment. Some renovations may need to be done to ensure that existing infrastructure is accessible, making it possible to hire people with disabilities.

  1. Attract people with disabilities

To attract and hire people with disabilities, employers should speak with inclusion. Job postings should explicitly attract applications from people with disabilities. For example, mentioning that the position is open to all qualified individuals, including those with disabilities will encourage people with disabilities to apply. If the position is only open to people with disabilities or people with particular impairments, it should be clearly stated in the job description. However, this should not be based on stereotyped ideas about the suitability of people with certain disabilities for certain jobs, but rather seek to build an inclusive workforce in which the talents and abilities of persons with disabilities are embraced.

  1. Broadening the recruitment process

How and where job postings are shared is also crucial. Posting jobs where people with disabilities can find them will make opportunities more visible. Employers should also share job openings with nonprofits, agencies and organizations that work with people with disabilities in their areas to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind.

  1. Modifying the application process

The application process should be by all means possible accessible to those with disabilities. To ensure candidates with disabilities can easily apply open positions, there is need to ensure that the job posting is available in formats which are accessible to people with disabilities. For example, job posting should be posted on websites where the text can be enlarged, and which can be accessed by screen reading software. People with disabilities should be allowed to apply in a variety of ways, including through assistive technologies such as the use of telecommunication.

  1. Non-discriminatory interviewing

All job candidates should be treated respectfully, fairly and equally, answering the same questions to help determine the best candidate for the position. Even individuals with disabilities should be treated respectfully, fairly and equally during job interviews. This begins by ensuring that interview locations are accessible to persons with a variety of disabilities. It is also important to allow applicants to request reasonable accommodations so they can participate in the interview, such as requesting assistance in completing forms, or asking for a sign language interpreter to facilitate communication. The interviewer(s) should focus on the applicants’ qualifications, not disability.

Finding the right staffing mix means casting a wide net to find the best candidates for every position. Supporting employment for people with disabilities ensures inclusivity at workplace and combats discrimination.

Let’s build inclusive workforces which harnesses the talents and abilities of people with disabilities.

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