How Disability Affects Hiring

OperationsInc CEO David Lewis was recently interviewed by NPR’s Marketplace on the ways disability affects how employers approach hiring.

The interview followed an episode on the economics of disability – “what it feels like to live with one, or several, and to interact with the economy”. The following is a segment of Lewis’s interview, highlighting four things to consider regarding hiring and disability.

1. Larger companies are often more accessible. Big business is set up to hire from a broader range of backgrounds, including people with disabilities. Larger companies are more likely to have a good understanding of what accommodations are and how to implement them, and are more likely to work out of updated office spaces. Small businesses may not have the same comprehensive understanding of what “reasonable accommodations” are or how to implement accommodations. People with disabilities are more likely to work at larger businesses because they’re more open and accessible.

2. Businesses are trying to avoid lawsuits. Businesses, especially small businesses, that don’t understand how to create accommodations for employees with disabilities are often worried by the idea of lawsuits, and that creates tension between employers and people with disabilities. Lewis said that one step toward better understanding and more inclusive hiring practices would be better information distribution from the federal government.

3. The job description is a big deal. A lot of hiring discrimination may come down to the actual job posting. By writing job descriptions with more inclusive language, employers can remove the expectation that the applicant is able bodied and/or neurotypical, opening the application process to a wider group.

4. Outreach can solve a lot of problems. Lewis recommends that employers who want to make their workspace or hiring process more accessible reach out to nonprofits in their area that work with people with disabilities. These groups can help employers find equipment and grant money, but can also help with the basics, like writing job descriptions or creating a dialogue between the business and potential employees who have disabilities.

To read the complete interview, please click here.

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