Hiring people with disabilities makes good business sense

Ever see the TV commercial of the woman in the wheelchair who points out some of her colleagues’ shortcomings?  Like the “copy-incapable” office worker or the “pattern-deficient” dresser.  Even the man with “volume control syndrome” makes an appearance in the humorous spot.

The ad is part of a larger campaign by Health & Disability Advocates (HDA) on behalf of 40 states to spur hiring of people with disabilities. “Think Beyond the Label” as the promotion is called makes the case that no worker is without flaws and that these shortcomings don’t impact job performance.

The same goes for hiring people with disabilities.  HDA says employees with disabilities bring different perspectives to meeting work requirements.  In the end, hiring someone who “thinks” outside the box doesn’t compare to hiring someone who “lives” outside the box.  That’s the value-add that employees with disabilities bring to an organization according to HDA.

The problem is that the U.S. national unemployment rate is at 10 percent and even higher in some states.   Employing people with disabilities is even a greater challenge in this tough economy with the unemployment rate for this demographic hovering at 15 percent

No doubt the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other likeminded legislation has aided in the hiring of these unique individuals, although some studies suggest otherwise.  A survey conducted in July 2010 found that since the passage of the ADA in 1990, only 21 percent of people with disabilities are working full or part-time, compared to 59 percent of people without disabilities.

Myriad reasons may explain the disparity between the hiring of people with and without disabilities.  An explanation can be the lack of awareness and misinformation available of the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities.  “Think Beyond the Label” is a great step forward dispelling these myths in a cool, hip and modern campaign.    The next move is on corporate America.

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