The benefits of recruiting from an untapped talent pool, particularly individuals with disabilities, cannot be overstated. This demographic remains substantially under-tapped despite a significant proportion of people in work having disabilities, visible or not. Today, the working-age population with disabilities accounts for 22%, a figure that has increased from 2020.
Consider this narrative: at 17, a bright student was paralysed and told she would never walk again. Ignoring this prognosis, she fought against the odds, eventually returning to school and even enrolling at the University of Hertfordshire as a registered disabled student. Despite facing challenges throughout her schooling, she received all necessary support to thrive and succeed.
Fast forward to today, she’s a successful HR professional who has not allowed her disability, a genetic disorder causing joint issues, to impede her career progression. I hope that my story serves as an inspiration for anyone who’s grappling with disabilities and illuminates the vast potential employers might tap into, with the right mindset.
There are seven key benefits to recruiting people with disabilities, each of which contributes to a stronger, more profitable business.
- Addressing Staff Shortages: With staff shortages plaguing various sectors, including healthcare, employing individuals with disabilities can alleviate this issue. While others fail to consider this rich talent pool, you can tap into 22% of the working population by adopting an inclusive mindset.
- Upskilling & Training: Recruiting individuals with disabilities often provides the opportunity for training and upskilling. Look beyond current skills, focusing on their aptitude and attitude. This group’s passion and drive can enrich your workforce, provided they receive necessary training.
- Improved Retention: Recruiting and supporting individuals with disabilities can result in loyalty and gratitude, translating into long-term retention. Richard Branson’s famous quote, “Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to,” encapsulates this point perfectly.
- Increased Engagement: Employees who feel valued and understood are more likely to engage effectively with colleagues, clients, and business leaders. By fostering the right culture, providing training, and attracting the right people, businesses can enjoy high engagement levels.
- Competitive Advantage: Actively employing and supporting individuals with disabilities can provide a competitive advantage. Filling vacancies reduces stress on current employees and improves customer service, enhancing your overall business reputation.
- Employer of Choice: By being disability confident, aligned with employee values, and carrying a good reputation, a business can become an employer of choice. A great workplace reputation is not about self-perception but rather about the experiences of your employees.
- Provider of Choice: When your employees deliver outstanding service, your clients will take notice. This can result in increased business from consumers who share your values, further enhancing your profitability.
Tapping into the disabled community can indeed make businesses stronger and more profitable. The opportunity is significant; however, it requires the right mindset. Be open to the idea, explore the possibilities, and remember that not all disabilities are visible.
Beware, though, of the potential pitfalls: disability must never be used as a means of manipulation or weaponisation. It’s essential to treat performance and disability as separate factors when dealing with HR issues. If you’ve done everything correctly, even if someone tries to weaponize their disability, you’ll be on solid ground.
The journey to an inclusive workforce isn’t without its challenges, but it’s one that can yield extraordinary rewards, in terms of talent, loyalty, engagement, and overall business strength. As employers, it’s time to tap into this under-tapped talent pool and experience these benefits first-hand.