Disability – Inclusive Hiring Crucial For Business Growth and Success Post-Pandemic

By Jeannette Campbell

As we start off the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses in some sectors are still fighting for survival while others are growing. The pandemic crisis will end eventually. The world will bounce back. Just like it did a century ago at the end of the Spanish Influenza. Coming out of this pandemic, business growth will be rooted in your recruitment strategy. In fact, business growth is always rooted in this.

SO, YOUR STRATEGY needs to include expanding your talent searches — through intentional recruiting of qualified candidates who have a disability.

Why?

Businesses in every sector are facing sizeable labour shortages. The dilemma was happening before the pandemic. It’s not going to end when the pandemic does.

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) published a study in 2018 summing up the long-term situation with a telling, five-word title — Labour Shortage: Here to Stay.

“Hidden” labour solution

“Labour shortages are holding Canadian businesses back. We found a direct link between a shortage of workers and slower growth in company sales. Specifically, our statistical analysis shows that firms that are more affected by labour shortages are 65% more likely to be low-growth companies,” the BDC study noted.

But there’s a winning solution at the fingertips of businesses: A vast, largely untapped talent pool of people who have a disability, who can fill roles. It’s about 645,000 strong, according to Statistics Canada. That’s the number of working-age Canadians who have a disability, who want to, and can, work.

There are many business benefits of intentional disability-inclusive hiring. They include increased productivity and profitability; higher employee retention rates; and fewer workplace accidents.

Advantages

Did you know this? Employees who have a disability are 72% more likely to be dedicated, long-term employees than other staff. That’s a huge advantage for businesses where high turnover is an issue.

Then there’s the bottom line. Here’s what Getting to Equal — The Disability Inclusion Advantage, a 2018 study by Accenture, found. It looked at disability-inclusive businesses versus others: Companies that practise disabilityinclusive hiring see 28% higher revenue. They book twice the net income. And have 30% higher profit margins.

A lot of businesses have never considered hiring people who have a disability. Why? Two main reasons:

– They don’t know how to reach the talent pool.

– Common misconceptions can deter businesses from recruiting qualified candidates who have a disability.

Reframing thinking

One of the most common myths? Accommodations cost a lot. The reality? It’s most often less than a $500 investment in the person.

In fact, making accommodations isn’t even the right perspective anymore. Over the past year the pandemic has rapidly changed the dynamics of work. Things that used to be considered an individual accommodation request for any employee are now the norm for millions of employees.

Businesses were jolted into reframing their thinking. They’re making sure their teams have what they need to work successfully. Whether that’s working remotely with the right connectivity, or a piece of assistive technology.

Talent pool

Finding and hiring candidates who have a disability is easier and less stressful than you may think, when you make the right connections.

Develop relationships with communitybased agencies that work with job seekers who have a disability. Their employment service teams match your needs with candidates who are the right “fit.” They also have job coaches who work with you and new-hires, to help make sure the employee is successful.

This is the best way of reaching this talent pool. A study by the Canadian Abilities Foundation (CAF) found that working with agencies is the number-one way (24%) people who have a disability, secure employment.

Another good way — spread the word about your talent needs through your existing employees and their personal networks. Personal networking is the number-two way (20%) job-seekers who have a disability, find employment.

A 2019 TD Economics report noted this: Businesses that don’t intentionally recruit people who have a disability, will get left behind competitively in the years ahead.

So start looking forward this year. Beginning your disability-inclusive hiring journey now, will help you keep your business on a path of success for the future.

Jeannette Campbell is CEO of the Ontario Disability Employment Network.

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