Your Why Accessibility is Becoming a Hiring and Retention Solution

Published September 28, 2022

Last year, more than 47 million Americans left their jobs. While the media often references this phenomenon as “The Great Resignation,” the US Chamber of Commerce argues that “Great Reshuffle” is a more apt term. Now, employers across all industries struggle to fill open positions, while strong candidates weigh their many opportunities.  

“The talent market today is highly competitive, with organizations competing globally for the same talent due to increased remote work opportunities,” said Talent Acquisition Professional Tracy Lovgren of Verbit. As a result, companies need to consider what’s most important to employees. 

“Today’s talent will only consider organizations that have a culture which is diverse, inclusive and accessible to all,” she said. 

Finding ways to improve work environments and the company culture to improve inclusivity is becoming necessary to attract and retain employees. While it should be clear that offering workplace accommodations and prioritizing accessibility are integral to any corporate strategy, here are some facts, statistics and numbers to back-up this assertion.  

Finding people who are the right fit for open roles 

 The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that only 19.1% of working-age people with disabilities are employed. That number shows that there is a massive pool of untapped talent. Additionally, Statista reported an employment rate of just 27.7% for people with disabilities who have college degrees or higher. More than seven out of 10 college-educated people with disabilities are sitting out of the workforce.  

Lovgren and the team at Verbit are working to provide companies with the tools they need to support these employees. Now, with their dedicated accessibility partners, innovative employers can recruit talented individuals with disabilities into roles where they can thrive.  

Some large companies are already leading the way. For example, Microsoft, IBM and AT&T are just a few prominent corporations that actively recruit employees with disabilities. Leaders at these organizations understand that a proactive hiring approach aimed at this demographic is good for business.  

 Smart hiring strategies that make dollars and sense 

 In best-case scenarios, businesses can find ways to do good while doing well. However, at its core, the corporate world is about growing companies and building wealth. Fortunately, when it comes to intelligent solutions for the labor shortage, the right move for the bottom line and employees is the same.  

Here are a few compelling reasons why creative and inclusive hiring is the right path from a business perspective.  

Boost the GDP 

 According to a recent Disability:IN report, if just 1% of unemployed people with disabilities joined the workforce, the result would be a $25 billion increase in the national GDP. Those numbers reveal the productivity loss resulting from so many people on the sidelines. Making workplaces inviting and inclusive could have an enormous impact on the economy. Each individual company has an opportunity to take part in and benefit from this strategy. 

Keep good employees 

 Employers with inclusive hiring strategies that offer opportunities to people with disabilities experience a 90% rise in the retention of valued employees. Retention is a money saver, too, since it costs between 50% and 200% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. In fact, voluntary turnover costs US companies a combined trillion dollars a year 

Increase productivity writes that hiring people with disabilities and embracing inclusivity leads to a 75% increase in employee productivity. Productive employees are crucial to profitability and competitiveness in the market.  

Attract more customers 

 People with disabilities make up a large share of the market. In the US, the disposable income of individuals with disabilities is $490 billion. Representation among employees is a great way to attract loyal customers. Additionally, 87% of consumers say they’d rather give their business to companies that hire individuals with disabilities.  

These statistics make a strong argument for recruiting, hiring and retaining more people with disabilities. Also, benefits like tax incentives and improved eligibility for government contracts illustrate the value of investing in inclusivity and accessibility. However, it’s important to note that efforts will need to exceed the requirements of accessibility laws.  

 Making workplaces more accessible 

 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is likely the most well-known law related to accessibility in the workplace. Since the ADA dates back to 1990, it isn’t anything new for employers. However, providing reasonable accommodations is the minimum effort an employer can put in regarding accessibility. In reality, many employees’ expectations far exceed the requirements of the ADA.  

Today’s companies must start thinking about creating inclusive cultures beyond legal standards. One way to achieve this objective is to be proactive about workplace accessibility and build diverse teams. 

Proactive inclusivity from recruiting to promoting 

 Genuinely inclusive companies don’t just hire for diversity. These businesses want their employees to succeed and have the opportunity to grow. While opening up hiring opportunities to diverse candidates is a great place to start, businesses will need more comprehensive plans to build their cultures from within. The companies that make these changes with intention will be creating the infrastructure and culture that will help their business for decades to come. Here are some ideas for promoting inclusivity at each stage of employees’ journeys.  

Start with strategic recruiting 

 Many large businesses have hiring strategies that involve seeking out people with disabilities for roles in which those individuals can excel. However, most companies can’t devote resources to projects at the same scale as tech giants like Microsoft. Still, working with organizations like the National Organization on Disability can help businesses connect with skilled candidates with disabilities.  

Another strategy is to contact local colleges and speak with their Office of Student Disability Services. Schools often have students eager to participate in internships or near graduation looking to start their careers.  

Make the hiring process accessible  

 Naturally, applications need to be accessible, but so does the interview process. For instance, if the candidate is Deaf or hard of hearing, they might need captions for Zoom meetings or an interpreter. Fortunately, this is where accessibility partners like Verbit step in to facilitate accessibility during the hiring process and beyond. 

Also, new hires may need accommodations during the onboarding process, including closed captions or audio descriptions for video resources. Audio descriptions, in particular, are a tool that companies often overlook. However, when it comes to certain educational videos, this solution is vital for people who are blind or have low vision. In fact, many people with learning disabilities benefit from audio description as well.  

 Keep great people 

 Retaining employees, including those with disabilities, often requires some flexibility. Making accommodations, including a work-from-home or hybrid arrangement, might make it possible for an employee to continue to perform their role.  

It’s also wise to consider mentorship programs that engage employees and ensure they get feedback and guidance. In fact, more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies have mentorship programs. Building these professional relationships is great for the mentor, the mentee and the employer. Mentorship programs boost retention, productivity and increase the success of individual employees. They also provide a safe place for employees to express what they need. In the case of employees with disabilities, forming strong relationships with colleagues can make it more likely that they will feel comfortable requesting tools that will allow them to excel in their positions.  

Support, educate and advance employees 

 One study showed that 58% of employees planned to leave their position because the employer didn’t offer enough opportunities for advancement. These training and skill development programs mustn’t exclude employees with disabilities. Ongoing education needs to be inclusive and offer accommodations allowing everyone to participate.  

Allocating resources to build a more accessible workplace, from recruiting to promoting, will benefit companies and their employees. In today’s world, corporations can’t afford to ignore these strategies for attaining and retaining top talent. Luckily, working with accessibility experts like Verbit makes it possible to offer employees plenty of innovative accessibility solutions. As a result, businesses can be better equipped to usher in a new era of workplace inclusivity.  


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