Part III The Job Search, Application, and Interview Process

21 Know the Business Case for Hiring Persons with Disabilities

Employers may not know that it makes good business sense to hire persons with disabilities. If the student has a visible disability or otherwise decides to disclose their disability during the job interview, being able to educate an employer on the business case for hiring persons with disabilities can help them to market their skills to employers (ALIS, 2016b). They might wish to mention these advantages when an employer asks what assets they bring to the organization or in response to the question “Why should I hire you?”

If you are unfamiliar with the business case for hiring persons with disabilities, take note of the following advantages for employers with inclusive hiring practices and the infographic below. The list and infographic may be used to educate the student and help them prepare to “sell themselves” in a job interview.

  1. Reduced staff turnover. Studies have shown that persons with disabilities keep their jobs longer, resulting in better retention rates compared to other employees. Numerous companies, such as Walgreens, Tim Hortons, Pizza Hut, Marriott, and Washington Mutual have reported significantly lower turnover rates among employees with disabilities compared to employees without disabilities. This results in significant savings in terms of recruitment, hiring, and training. By some estimates the cost of new hires or internal transfers can range from $3,000 to $20,000 or more, making the case for hiring a person with a disability a measurable financial advantage (HRSDC, 2013; NBESS 2015).
  2. Reduced absenteeism. It is a myth that employees with disabilities are absent from work more often than employees without a disability. Both studies from DuPont and DePaul University have found that the attendance of employees with disabilities to be equal to or exceed that of employees without disabilities. Statistics provided by Tim Horton’s franchisee Megleen Inc. found an absentee rate of zero for 35 employees with disabilities (representing 17% of their workforce) in 2011 (NBESS, 2015).
  3. Minimal costs for accommodation. A misconception that some employers hold is that the costs of accommodating an employee are high. The reality is that in most cases the cost of accommodating an employee is little or nothing. Research conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN, 2015) in the United States found that approximately 58% of workplace accommodations cost nothing, while the remainder incurred a one-time cost of $500 on average. Benefits employers experienced as a direct result of accommodating an employee with a disability included retaining valued employees, increased productivity, and reduced costs of training new employees. Employers in the study also cited several indirect benefits that included improved company morale, improved interactions with co-workers and customers, and increased overall productivity in the company.
  4. Access to a skilled, underutilized talent pool. As the population ages and workers from the baby boomer generation exit the workforce, employers face the challenge of finding skilled, talented people to fill these positions. Experts suggest there will be a race for talent in the coming decades. There are approximately 795,000 Canadians with disabilities who are unemployed but are able and willing to work. Almost half of these have post-secondary education (ALIS, 2016b; Human Resources and Skills Development Canada [HRSDC], 2013, New Brunswick Employer Support Services [NBESS], 2015). Businesses hoping to find and retain talent simply cannot ignore this pool of potential employees.
  5. Competitive advantage. Close to 40 million North Americans self-identify as having a disability. This represents a substantial proportion of the population that are potential consumers. It is estimated that persons with disabilities have an annual purchasing power of over $25 billion in Canada alone. When businesses hire persons with disabilities they are hiring individuals who recognize and understand the needs of this population, allowing them to effectively market to customers with disabilities and reach a broader customer base that is representative of the population. Additionally, promoting inclusion also influences family and friends of persons with disabilities in the products they buy and businesses they choose to support (ALIS, 2016b; HRSDC, 2013; NBESS, 2013).
  6. Improves public image and reputation. An organization that promotes an inclusive vision can reach a broader customer base. Hiring for diversity and inclusivity can raise the image and goodwill of an organization. (ALIS, 2016b; NBESS, 2013). According to one study, 92% of consumers say they are more inclined to do business with companies that have inclusive values and are recognized as open and just employers (Job Accommodation Network, 2006).
  7. Promotes universal access. When an organization is open to diversity, inclusivity, and accommodations for employees, it benefits everyone, including other employees and clients. For example, installing automatic doors benefits not only an employee with a disability but also other employees or customers who might be carrying items in their arms. When an organization promotes universal access and employs a workforce that is reflective of society, people of all backgrounds feel welcome and comfortable in that environment. As the Canadian population ages, the proportion of persons with a disability will likely rise in the coming years. Promoting universal access now will prepare an organization to meet the demands of an ageing population in the future (ALIS, 2016b; NBESS, 2015).
  8. Positive impact on staff and clients. Hiring for diversity and inclusion can have a positive impact on employee creativity and innovation, helping employees to be open to changes and new developments. Studies have shown that the presence of persons with a disability on a team improves employee morale, satisfaction, teamwork, and motivation, and does not cause more conflicts or communication problems (North East Community Partners for Inclusion, 2005). Hiring persons with disabilities can also improve client relations, as a person with a disability may have understanding and expertise in dealing with challenges in mobility, learning, work style, or communication (ALIS, 2016b; NBESS, 2015).
  9. Promotes innovation and creativity. Because of the challenges and barriers that they have to overcome, people with disabilities have learned to develop alternative paths to adapt and accomplish tasks by thinking differently and creatively. These skills can translate over into employment, facilitating innovation in the workplace through the creation of new ideas, products, and services. Studies have demonstrated that “organizations leveraging diversity are better able to adapt to changes in the external environment, and are more innovative in anticipating and responding to these changes” (HRSDC, 2013; NBESS, 2015).


Infographic listing myths and misconceptions about hiring people with disabilities

(“Myths and misconceptions,” 2018, p. 20)



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Transition to Employment: A Guide for Supporting Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities Copyright © 2021 by UPEI Career Services and UPEI Accessibility Services is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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