Everyone is pushing diversity.  Companies look at the numbers around race, gender, and age broken down by each department, and level.  They host events for hiring minorities.  Many even hire diversity specialists to focus on and increase these metrics.  So why isn’t anyone looking at their disability hiring?

According to the CDC, in America 1 in 4 adults are living with a disability.  Many of whom are unemployed or underemployed.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (updated in 2008 to the American with Disabilities Act Amendments Act ADAAA) was established to help individuals with disabilities get jobs without worry of being discriminated against. Most companies pride themselves on offering Equal Employment Opportunities.  However, many people with disabilities try to hide their disability when interviewing.  Why?  Because they don’t want to be discriminated against.  Most employers don’t hire people with disabilities because they don’t know how to accommodate their needs.  Not hiring people because they have a disability is illegal. Not offering reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities is illegal.  However, there is a loophole, if the employer doesn’t have knowledge of your disability, they are not required to make accommodations.

I might not have all the answers to solve these problems. What I do know is that I am not afraid to try.  I believe all people with disabilities should feel comfortable and confident in their skills and tell recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers how their disability may affect their job and what accommodations they may need.  I also believe that recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers need to be trained on understanding disabilities, ADA laws and how to look beyond a disability.

Altering the interview process is the first step towards accommodating people with disabilities.  Candidates need to know that asking for reasonable accommodations, even during the interview process is possible.  If you have a candidate with ADD or ADHD a 4-hour interview might not be the best reflection of their skills.  Allowing the interview to be broken up into shorter interviews or even allowing for multiple breaks may be necessary.  By informing the interviewers of your disability and needs it allows them to determine if this is something they can accommodate on a regular basis.  Candidates with disabilities should work for companies that are willing to work with them.  Candidates should not feel that they must hide who they really are to get a job that makes them happy.

No one is perfect.  We accept this all the time. People with disabilities are more than just their disability, they can add value and achieve incredible things.   If you only look at what holds a person back, they will never be able to show you how they can excel. I believe that if we take an active approach to hiring people with disabilities, similar to the ways we have done this for other minority groups, we will find untapped potential in these individuals.  I am passionate about this topic and would love to hear about how you are working towards hiring more people with disabilities.  If you have a disability or are looking to learn more about hiring people with disabilities the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a good place to start.

By Caitlin Mandeville | People Science CSM