So, after having taken a pause for the pandemic, we are back to blogging (besides the current webinarsand online training). And honestly, the inspiration for this blog is the Unique CPA Podcast. They will interview me in April (2021) to discuss how CPAs can access more employees with disabilities as our economy springs back. I encourage you to listen to the podcast, but I also wanted to make my tips available to anyone looking to access this valuable labor pool.
5 Ways to Recruit Candidates with Disabilities
Background for Businesses: Many people with disabilities have experienced discrimination based on their disability and therefore may require some coaxing to apply for your jobs. However, they will provide you with unbelievable benefits and are worth the modest effort.
1. Go beyond EEOC language. When posting jobs, updating your company’s website career page and explaining that you do not discriminate against protected classes, take the next step to create a disability friendly communication strategy. Instead of saying “we don’t discriminate against people with disabilities” try saying something like “we welcome candidates who represent diversity, especially those with disabilities”. When scheduling interviews, ask every single candidate if they may need accommodation for the interview process. Don’t wait for the candidate to request one. This signals to all candidates that you are disability friendly.
2. Seek a partnership with a local agency or school that provides employment services (also called “vocational”) to people with disabilities. You can go through your state agency, or directly to local agencies. To find ones in proximity, try an internet search based on “disabilities employment name of neighborhood/town/county”.
3. Clearly communicate, internally and externally, that you are welcoming candidates with disabilities. In the past 4 years, the number two source for candidates with disabilities is current employee referrals. But this only happens after a business has explicitly mentioned a desire to employ more people with disabilities.
4. Consider a dedicated internship for a junior or senior with a disability. Every college and university are required to have an office of services for students with disabilities. These offices assist students with accommodations they may need to get the full benefit of their education (like a quiet test environment or a note taker during class). These offices can help you advertise an internship that has been dedicated to a student with a disability. Quick tip: be sure you maintain your current standards of qualifications and performance ratings for these students.
5. Understand which accommodations are “reasonable” and which are not. Examples of reasonable: flexible work from home options, different lighting (once we are back to working in-person), software that “zooms” text or reads the screen, or video training that is captioned. Examples of unreasonable: changing the qualifications for job openings, reducing standards of performance, changing the architecture of a building protected by historical landmark status (and many others related to structural changes). The best resource for accommodations is www.askjan.org which is a free and confidential informational source on accommodations for businesses. You are the best judge or what is reasonable, but if you need ideas, JAN is the holy grail of ideas and stories of other businesses' success.
As I bridge the gap between business and disability, the most common topics I discuss are the “how” and the “why” of employing more people with disabilities. This blog hit on 5 tips of the “how”. And you can always find the “why” in my eBook. Also, check out my monthly webinars (available on replay), January described the benefits businesses experience when employing people with disabilities and March described 12 "hows".