October is National Disabilities Awareness Month, launched 71 years ago to herald the contributions of those with intellectual, developmental (IDD) and physical disabilities to the workplace.

Quite simply, hiring people with disabilities is good for business bottom line. In the past, because those with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been segregated and “sheltered” from mainstream schools and workplaces, employers were not exposed to the high potential that exists in the IDD population. Now, with the dissolution of sheltered workshops in many states, more and more people with IDD are being integrated into their communities and able to put their talents to best use.

Businesses who might have once been resistant to hiring those with disabilities soon find that their concerns dissipate once they incorporate those with IDD into their workplace roster. Much research has been done reflecting the return on investing in the hiring of people with disabilities. The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) analyzes the practices of high-performance organizations. They found that organizations who hire those with disabilities benefit both culturally and through improved processes and systems.

Businesses who hire those with disabilities have a greater return on investment. A large percentage of Americans surveyed said that they would prefer to buy services and products from organizations that have a well-implemented inclusion policy. Additionally, bringing in people with diverse perspectives means greater possibilities for innovation and process improvement. With an inclusive culture comes improved employee satisfaction resulting in improved customer satisfaction.

I4cp conducted surveys of hundreds of businesses and discovered that the majority scored “good” or “very good” when relating the work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability and attendance of those with IDD.

Additionally, Anthony Shriver, head of Best Buddies International, an organization dedicated to integrated employment and leadership development for those with IDD, cites statistics that suggest that organizations that emphasize inclusion are twice as likely to be high-performing organizations than their less inclusive counterparts.

Whether you work in the non-profit sector or the for-profit sector, understanding the benefits of working alongside those with disabilities will not only enhance your business bottom line but also workplace culture. And while it is the “right thing to do,” hiring those with disabilities is far more than that. It is an opportunity to increase your own bottom line as well as offer a chance for those who were once segregated from community to earn a living wage, receive health and retirement benefits, have opportunities for close work relationships and model and reflect excellent workplace values to their co-workers, families, and community. It’s a win-win proposition and one to certainly reflect on during this month of Disabilities Awareness.

What is your organization’s policy on hiring those with intellectual and developmental disabilities? How can you influence and advocate for greater inclusion in your workplace? I welcome your thoughts. And check out National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month at: https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/



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