Survey Shows Employers Have People with Disabilities on Radars

Don Tennant

About a year and a half ago, in my post, "Physically Disabled Need Jobs, Not Just Wheelchair Ramps," I wrote about the need for companies to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities, a group that has long suffered a disproportionately high unemployment rate. I was encouraged to see that a new survey suggests that the issue is at least on the radars of most employers.


Earlier this month, the Society for Human Resource Management released the results of a survey on the practices and policies companies have adopted related to recruiting and hiring employees with disabilities. Here's a snapshot of what these organizations' policies and practices entail:


  • Includes people with disabilities explicitly in its diversity and inclusion plan (61 percent)
  • Requires subcontractors/suppliers to adhere to disability nondiscrimination requirements (59 percent)
  • Trains HR staff and supervisors on effective interviewing of people with disabilities (58 percent)
  • Has relationships with community organizations that promote the employment of people with disabilities (57 percent)
  • Actively recruits people with disabilities (47 percent)
  • Has senior management that demonstrates a strong commitment to disability recruitment and hiring (40 percent)
  • Takes advantage of tax incentives for hiring people with disabilities (27 percent)
  • Has explicit organizational goals related to the recruitment or hiring of people with disabilities (27 percent)
  • Participates in internships or similar programs that target people with disabilities (20 percent)
  • Includes progress toward recruitment or hiring goals for people with disabilities in the performance appraisals of senior management (18 percent)


Here's a summary of the policies and practices that were found to be most effective:


  • Training HR staff and supervisors on interviewing people with disabilities (45 percent)
  • Requiring subcontractors/suppliers to adhere to disability nondiscrimination requirements (38 percent)
  • Having explicit organizational goals related to the recruitment or hiring of people with disabilities (34 percent)

And here's what the survey found with respect to company size and sector:


  • Larger organizations are more likely to have policies and practices related to recruitment and hiring of people with disabilities compared with smaller organizations.
  • Publicly-owned, for-profit organizations are more likely to have some of these policies and practices in place compared with privately-owned, for-profit organizations and nonprofit organizations.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 24, 2012 10:52 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

I find it unlikely that employers will make earnest attempts to employ the disabled.  They may appear to be doing such a thing, but at the end of the day they will act in their financial interest.

There are financial incentives for employers to avoid the disabled.  Even if they are able to do their jobs as good (or better) than those who aren't, the fact of the matter is that their medical bills are on average going to be higher.  When added to the pool of insured, it will drive up the cost of providing benefits.

You may find what I would coin "marketing based change" but I doubt we will find real and meaningful change that is statistically significant.  Companies will gladly try to use the disabled they have hired to improve their image, but this is just a show and always will be unless we fix the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is that our approach to healthcare generally puts the burden on employers.  Before you jump to the conclusion that I am some Cato Institute corporate hack, anyone who knows me knows that I loath what corporations have become and the power they now wield.

I see employer sponsored healthcare as a serious problem because they become a crutch and dependency for the people.  If you lose your job, you usually lose your healthcare coverage unless you can afford jacked up rates (COBRA).  Most people who lose their jobs cannot afford to pay more for healthcare and they go without.  

The number one cause of financial ruin in this country isn't job loss or foreclosure.  It is usually health related and almost always a result of a major health issue when you have either no coverage or too little coverage. 

I supported healthcare reforms prior to reading what they put down on paper, but the reforms that Congress passed didn't solve the underlying problem: healthcare is too expensive, and it is becoming even more expensive.

If you want to keep older workers employed and allow the disabled to also work, you can't rely on HR departments to "have a heart".  We need fundamental change in the economics of employment.  Healthcare has a major impact on the economics.

Without fundamental economic changes, the kindness of mankind will always be too little, too late. 

Apr 24, 2012 12:33 PM SealTeam6 SealTeam6 SealTeam6 SealTeam6  says: in response to R. Lawson

Something that has always baffled me is the idea that a for-profit healthcare system in the hands of a for-profit employer is the best model for healthcare in this country. Would we put Exxon Mobil or Dupont in charge of the environment ? (Some might argue that they already are in charge via their lobbyists). Between getting declined at the drop of a hat for "pre-existing" conditions and employers firing without notice what safety net is there for workers with disabilities ? Some weak laws passed by a lobby controlled government ?

Apr 25, 2012 2:40 AM Wakjob Wakjob  says:

Yeah good luck with that Don. IT has turned into a popularity contest. If you're not a hipster or at least hip enough, you're not getting the job. I have a physical disability but in appearance only. I can work, get around fine, and both hands function fine. That didn't stop a major manager at one of the top 3 US software companies where I worked from calling me an "ugly flat-faced freak" and making sure I got fired. You are dreaming if you think Korporate Amerika is going to give jobs to anyone less then Hollywood-perfect.

Oct 19, 2012 4:33 AM Survey Crest Survey Crest  says:
Great to see that an initiative is being taken to employ people with disabilities. Reply

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