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Building Diversity

Why Hiring People With Disabilities Is Good For Your Organization

What better way to create solutions for a diverse world than to create a workforce that reflects it?
To remain competitive, employers are looking beyond traditional labor sources to access skilled, qualified jobseekers for all levels of the organization. This includes focusing recruitment efforts on alternative sources of available job seekers, including those who are traditionally under-represented. Studies have shown that hiring people with disabilities:
•Increases employee retention

•Maintains performance standards

•Attracts qualified employees

•Prepares employers to deal with disabilities associated with the aging workforce

•Creates value for customers

•Provides economic advantages, such as tax incentives

•Enables organizations to retain valuable employees who become disabled Increase
Employee Retention

Replacing employees is expensive not only in tangible costs (e.g., advertising, screening, interviewing, and training) but also in the loss of organizational knowledge and subject matter expertise. Employers have found their employees with disabilities to be a loyal workforce leading to a reduction in turnover.
•The Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) June 2006 Workplace Forecast Survey and Organizational Development Special Expertise Panel findings indicate that keeping key talent is one of greatest concerns among employers.

•Human resource experts (Griffeth and Hom, 2001) estimate the cost of a single turnover ranges from 93-200% of the employee's annual salary.

•A study of 8,500 applicants and recipients of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services shows that people with disabilities who have achieved competitive employment through existing partnerships have a nearly 85 percent job-retention rate after one year (2003). These findings concur with those of organizations such as DuPont and Sears who have measured retention rates of their employees.

•As reported by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, in an article in Fortune magazine, Pizza Hut stated that their turnover rate for people in their Jobs Plus™ Program for people with disabilities was 20% compared to a 150% turnover rate among non-disabled employees. Fortune also reported that after Carolina Fine Snacks in Greensboro, NC started hiring people with disabilities, employee turnover dropped from 80% every six months to less than 5%; productivity rose from 70% to 95%; absenteeism dropped from 20% to less than 5%; and tardiness dropped from 30% of staff to zero. For more about increasing worker retention, look at
Maintain Performance Standards

Studies show that employees with disabilities perform equally or superior to employees without disabilities.
•A 2007 DePaul study of 314 employees (95 with and 219 without disabilities) at 13 organizations indicates that participants with disabilities had fewer scheduled absences than those without disabilities; and that all participants had nearly identical job performance ratings. To learn more about this study, click here:

•A Virginia Commonwealth University survey of 250 supervisors in 43 businesses indicates that supervisors are satisfied with the performance of their employees with disabilities, rating their performance similar to that of their non-disabled peers. Employer testimonials further highlight the ability of employees with disabilities not only to get the job done but to influence co-workers, therefore improving performance.
Consultant Joyce Bender cites several examples of employers who have benefited from taking the initiative to hire employees with disabilities. To see this article, click on
To learn more about performance standards, visit
Attract Qualified Employees

Some industries are already beginning to feel the crunch of a shrinking workforce. Over the next 5-10 years, this phenomenon is expected to grow more severe. Recruiting and retaining workers with disabilities is one strategy to counter the affects of the aging and shrinking workforce.
•According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, America will continue a period of economic growth from now through 2014. During this time, employment is expected to increase by 18.9 million new jobs, about 2.5 million more jobs than were added in the previous decade.

•Over this same period, almost 36 million workers are expected to leave their occupations and need to be replaced. To learn more, click on
Create Value for Customers

In today's world, customer companies reflect the diversity of the population at large. Customers therefore appreciate an organization made up of people with different backgrounds, perspectives and cultures. When employees learn to respect and understand differences among one another, they create an open, friendly working environment and amore positive alignment with customer values. People with disabilities contribute to an organization's success by bringing unique perspectives, problem-solving skills, and experiences to the workplace. A number of organizations have had success in implementing effective diversity programs that include people with disabilities.
•The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has several resources that demonstrate why a diversity strategy is essential in tapping into the creative, cultural and communicative skills of a variety of employees and in leveraging those skills to improve organization policies, products and customer experiences. To take a look, click on For more about the business case, visit

Much of the material in the section was adapted (with permission) from resources developed by other groups. We wish to express our appreciation to:
•The Employer Assistance & Recruiting Network (EARN). EARN is funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) under the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). For more information about the business case and numerous other resources, click on

•The Rhodes to Independence Initiative of the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy. To learn more about their initiative, or to look at their set of web pages entitled Leveraging an Untapped Resource, visit

Content Last Modified on 6/14/2013 3:15:32 PM

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