Branding yourself as a disability-inclusive employer is a primary way to ensure success in your disability hiring efforts. When job seekers with disabilities have evidence that your company welcomes people with disabilities as employees, they’re significantly more likely to apply.
As we approach the new year, here are six ways to brand yourself as a disability-inclusive employer:
- Utilize Accessible Job Applications – Inaccessible job applications can significantly hinder your reputation as a disability-inclusive employer. In fact, if your job applications aren’t accessible to job seekers with disabilities, it’s likely you’re missing out on qualified candidates before they even reach you.
When developing an accessible application process, focus on the following:
- Include an accommodation statement on recruitment materials that states accommodations can be provided upon request, along with contact info on how to obtain accommodations.
- Make sure your careers page and online applications are accessible for screen readers and other assistive technologies.
- Utilize Applicant Tracking Systems that are accessible and, if automated, free of bias against people with disabilities
- Avoid listing job requirements that aren’t essential to the position. Desirable qualifications such as requiring “ability to bend, lift, push at least 50 lbs.,” or “type 50 wpm” can discourage otherwise qualified candidates from applying.
- Consider eliminating the application altogether or develop a new candidate assessment program to ensure you’re reaching the broadest applicant pool.
- For organizations that conduct phone or video pre-screening, make sure that the technology utilized is accessible.
- Invest in Training & Development – It’s important to ensure ALL employees understand the importance of fostering an inclusive workplace. Even if HR and executive leadership is supportive of disability inclusion, your efforts will only be effective if you have buy-in at all levels, particularly those involved in any aspect of the hiring process. This means training all employees on various topics related to inclusion, including disability etiquette, reasonable accommodations, and unconscious bias.
In addition to providing training, employers should also invest in cultivating leaders with and without disabilities. Many companies have created disability-focused Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to create a safe space for employees with similar backgrounds and experiences to discuss common issues, and to foster learning and development among employees.
- Prioritize Accommodations for Existing Employees – Employers who want to be deemed disability-inclusive should have a seamless internal reasonable accommodation process. This means defining roles for all people involved, determining how and when accommodation requests will be reviewed and implemented, and providing a method for resolving disputes.
Keep in mind that some employees may not use the word “accommodation” to make requests, thus, it’s important for managers and other decision makers to understand the accommodations process as well. Additionally, accommodations should always be determined in communication with the employee requesting them rather than making decisions without discussion. Employees often already know what will be most beneficial to help them perform their jobs well.
- Partner with Disability-Focused Organizations – One of the commonly reported barriers to disability inclusive hiring is finding qualified job candidates. Choosing to partner with local organizations that support people with disabilities is a great way to get connected to job seekers with disabilities.
Consider partnering with local disability organizations to sponsor an event they’re hosting or schedule a time to speak with their program participants about what it’s like to work at your company. Often engaging directly with people with disabilities can help provide understanding about potential job opportunities they’d not previously considered. Making this effort to engage with disability-serving organizations is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to including people with disabilities in your workplace.
- Develop Disability-Inclusive Marketing Materials – Using images of people with disabilities in your print, video, and web materials is an important aspect of disability inclusive marketing and displays your commitment to inclusion to customers and jobseekers alike. In addition, make sure your outreach and recruitment materials are available in alternative formats, such as large print or electronic text and that your website and social media platforms are accessible. For more information on how to make your website accessible, see our previous post, “Is Your Website Accessible?”
- Commemorate Disability-Focused Events and Holidays – Get the whole team involved by celebrating national and local disability-focused days and events throughout the year. Marketing departments can plan social media posts around big commemorative events such as International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Autism Acceptance Month and Global Accessibility Awareness Day. In addition, look for local events, such as disability pride parades, and ask employees to host a booth or participate in an onsite activity. Finally, be sure to dedicate the month of October to joining employers across the country as they celebrate and host events commemorating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). For ideas on what your company can do for NDEAM, check out 10 Ways to Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
We’d love to support you in the new year as you build your inclusive brand. For more information, please contact NBDC.