Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) highlights just how important inclusive hiring practices are for the community and for any company’s bottom line. Hiring and empowering employees with disabilities is one of the most rewarding things any company can do, from delivering value to your community, enabling your workforce, and increasing your revenue.
On average, companies that show clear dedication and action toward improving DEI outperform industry peers by 53 percent.
Implementing and maturing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts can result in a significant increase in company performance. Companies identified as “disability-inclusion champions” have 28% higher revenue, according to a study by Accenture. These companies were twice as likely to have higher total shareholder returns than their peer groups. Companies that have improved their DEI score over time are four times more likely to have total shareholder returns that outperform their peers compared to “non-improvers.”
A Fully Accessible Employee Experience
In a conversation with WorkingNation, Vispero Vice President Matt Ater explained how companies can better accommodate people with disabilities and why inclusive hiring practices are vital. According to Ater, making employment accessible for people with disabilities levels the playing field and helps ensure organizations have a skilled and talented workforce.
Ater, who is blind, asks companies to think about the full employee experience: “If an employee comes on at a new company, think of all the steps and the things they have to do. From applying for the job, to onboarding and training, is each step accessible? If not, it’s not going to be a very rewarding experience for the employee, and they’re probably not going to survive in the job.”
Nearly one in six people — or over 1 billion worldwide — has a disability related to hearing, vision, mobility, speech, cognition, or nervous system functions. When companies make sure their technology is accessible to all, Ater says they can likely expect enhanced productivity, more innovation, and improved recruitment and retention.
Assistive Technology Empowers Your Workforce
The World Economic Forum reports that about 50% of jobs need employees to have technology skills, and it’s estimated that by 2030, 75% will have these requirements. In an ever-expanding world of technology, companies need to make sure those with disabilities are not excluded from the workforce. Even more, inclusion efforts are “so connected to ensuring that all digital content is fully accessible [for employees] so they can do their jobs,” Ater says.
For workers with disabilities, tools for accessibility – like screen readers and subtitles for video meetings – are necessary for workplace inclusion. Vispero, TPGI’s parent company, develops and helps implement assistive technology to empower an inclusive workforce. Ater says tools such as screen readers, low vision devices, and braille devices allow people like himself to excel in the workforce.
Rethinking Disability and Employment
In a study conducted by Adobe, 77% of workers with disabilities reported that their employer has done a “better job” supporting them since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when technology rapidly became an essential employee tool. Even more, three out of four workers with disabilities reported that accessibility and inclusivity are pivotal factors in evaluating a job opportunity.
Ater says that “automatic assumptions” can create barriers for inclusive employment practices.
“[Often,] the employer or the people that are doing the hiring don’t understand what the capabilities of that person are. We make automatic assumptions. I’m never going to be someone who drives a car, so they’re probably not going to hire me to drive a bus, fly an airplane, or things of that nature. But if I was hired by an airline company, does it mean I can’t be a call center agent? Does it mean I can’t be a manager?”
Ater says these kinds of stereotypes contribute to underemployment among people with disabilities. “[A stereotype] that we face every day in terms of people with disabilities is – can we do the job? We live in a world of stereotypes. It can be really hard to get away from that.”
According to Ater, a lot of programs tend to go very far, and very fast, without executive-level understanding. “Companies need that commitment and understanding from the beginning to see the real results in increased productivity and ROI.”
During National Disability Employment Awareness Month – and every month – taking a step toward creating more inclusive employment processes can pave the way for an inclusive workforce and a stronger organization.
Learn more about inclusive hiring and employment: