Building a Diverse Workforce: Attracting and Retaining Employees with Disabilities

A diverse workplace is one of the most powerful assets to any business. Companies that prioritize diversity are better equipped to serve customers and foster innovation — and they also have an edge when it comes to recruiting new talent! It’s important for employers to attract new hires with disabilities, as this can help create an inclusive culture. Courtesy of Designworks NW, let’s take a look at some of the best practices for attracting employees with disabilities.

Developing Internship Programs

women in a meeting

Internships provide an ideal way for people with disabilities to gain work experience and build their resumes. Employers should consider offering internships specifically tailored for people with disabilities, as well as internships that are open to everyone regardless of disability status or background.

Fostering an Inclusive Culture

woman sitting on a wheelchair while using laptop

Building a diverse workforce starts with creating an inclusive culture for all employees — including those who have disabilities. Employers should look for ways to make their company more accessible and welcoming, such as providing reasonable accommodations, implementing flexible hours, and offering job coaching sessions.

Setting Up and Budgeting for Workplace Accommodation

It’s essential that businesses budget for workplace accommodation so that employees with disabilities can perform their jobs safely and effectively. This might include purchasing adaptive technology or making changes in the office layout in order to accommodate wheelchairs or other assistive devices.

Adding Inclusive Language to Job Descriptions

When writing job descriptions, employers should be sure to use language that is inclusive of people with all types of abilities. This includes avoiding language that implies certain abilities are necessary in order to do a job successfully (for example “must be able to lift 50 pounds”) unless it is truly required by the position.

Providing Career-Planning Assistance

asian woman discussing business plan with diverse collegues

Many people with disabilities face unique challenges when it comes to finding employment. To ensure that candidates have access to the same opportunities as everyone else, employers should consider offering career-planning assistance such as resume-building workshops or mock interviews.

Creating an Inclusivity Document and Using PDFs to Keep Paperwork Organized

Part of your application should include a page on the benefits of hiring differently-abled employees and your commitment to an inclusive culture; it’s important that applicants immediately know you truly value diversity. Keeping track of this document along with other recruitment documents can be difficult, especially if you’re dealing with multiple applicants from different backgrounds or abilities levels. To stay organized, consider using PDFs instead of paper documents; this will allow you to keep track of everything in one place without having piles of paperwork lying around your office. Also, PDFs can easily be edited using free online tools.

Revamping Recruitment Processes for Differently-Abled Applicants

men and women wearing prosthetic legs and arm

The traditional recruitment process may not always be suitable for persons with disabilities; employers should look into ways they can modify the process in order to make it more accessible and accommodating (such as video interviewing).

Obtaining an EIN

It is important to acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for each new hire. An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that identifies employers and organizations for tax purposes. Acquiring an EIN ensures that your business is properly identified by the IRS and helps streamline payroll processes. It also allows you to set up bank accounts in the name of your business, which may be necessary if you plan on hiring multiple employees. Furthermore, having an EIN will allow you to set up health insurance plans and other benefits for your employees more easily.

Offering Continuing Education Through Online Degree Programs

Finally, employers should consider offering continuing education opportunities through online degree programs; this could include tuition reimbursement or even scholarships specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. Online degree programs also come with a lot of flexibility. For example, in order to earn a bachelor of education, you could take core classes that are only 5 weeks long, allowing you to learn at a more relaxed, productive pace.

Attracting new hires with disabilities is a great way for businesses to build a diverse workforce — one that is able to better serve customers and foster innovation within the company. By creating internship programs, budgeting for workplace accommodations, reviewing job descriptions for inclusive language, offering career-planning assistance, creating an inclusivity document and using PDFs instead of paper documents, revamping recruitment processes accordingly, obtaining an EIN from the IRS, and providing continuing education opportunities through online degree programs, employers can ensure they are doing all they can do attract new hires who have disabilities.

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