By Cathy Clauss, Vice President – Strategic Accounts

More than 1 billion people around the globe are living with some form of disability, according to the World Bank. Of the 386 million who are of working age, only 36% are actively employed in the workplace. This presents talent acquisition leaders with an opportunity to formulate a targeted inclusion strategy to attract workers with disabilities, which is especially important in today’s competitive labor market.

Successful attraction strategies to source underrepresented talent position a company to manage through challenging talent shortages. Some companies may be concerned about whether they can provide proper accommodations and the financial implications of doing so, but, in reality, the costs are minimal and the economic advantages far outweigh them. Inclusive workforces contribute to a supportive culture, foster empathy among coworkers, and elevate your company as an employer of choice.

To help you build a workforce inclusive of individuals with disabilities, here are four strategies to consider:

Assess and communicate your company’s disability workforce policy
While some countries have laws setting minimum standards for reasonable accommodations, companies must go a step further to create an inclusive environment for individuals with disabilities. To start, your company needs to have a formal policy outlining its commitment to hiring people with disabilities. It should also have a clear process to request reasonable accommodations, including workspace adjustments, job restructuring, assistive technology, and modified work hours.

Once your company solidifies a policy, communicate your commitment with your workforce and then externally. In addition, establish a regular communication cadence between TA and corporate diversity teams to increase transparency in measuring progress toward hiring talent with disabilities.

Evaluate your application process
Be intentional that your application process is accessible to all abilities. Make it easy for people to request special accommodations by having that information in a larger font or moving it toward the beginning of the job advertisement or application. In addition, using the right language is critical to ensure you are being inclusive, especially in job descriptions. Create a checklist of essential job functions that avoid personal characteristics. If a role requires an assessment, ensure it focuses on skills and does not limit qualified candidates with disabilities.

Consider using technology platforms that are compatible with major screen readers, enable zooming, or have options to adjust color contrast. It may also help to implement technologies that optimize job descriptions and assessments.

Provide training on best practices
To deliver a great hiring experience for candidates with disabilities, it is critical to train your recruiters and hiring managers on appropriate audience etiquette for the interview process. Offering a training curriculum with this information will help your team learn certain words and phrases they should avoid or use so the candidate feels comfortable and welcome. There are specialized resources, such as the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, you can tap into for information and support services. Consider providing similar training to your entire workforce to support an inclusive employee experience across the company.

In addition, it is important to train recruiters on alternative ways candidates can complete the application process. This makes sure candidates have a smooth and efficient experience when they reach out for accommodation throughout the interview and application process.

Reach out to targeted groups and partners
Companies should review their candidate sourcing channels and broaden their scope with job boards that are tailored for underrepresented talent. Leverage career sites dedicated to employing individuals with disabilities. Participate in job fairs that are accessible for all-ability candidates, such as ABILITY Job Fair, which incorporates video, chat, real-time captioning, and sign language interpreters.

Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical for companies to be successful, especially in a tight labor market. A well-executed inclusive strategy will deliver a diverse talent base and a company culture that will drive market-leading results. If you are unsure where to start on the journey to becoming more inclusive in hiring individuals with disabilities, an external partner can help you map out a plan.

Cathy Clauss

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