Why is Hiring People with Disabilities a Smart Business Move? 

Among various ways to improve the workplace, hiring people with disabilities stands out for its profound impact. A study by Accenture reveals that businesses with robust disability inclusion practices report 1.6 times more revenue, 2.6 times more net income, and double the economic profit compared to their peers.¹

As we delve deeper into this subject, you’ll see solid reasons why disability hiring is a strategic approach.

 

Debunking Misconceptions About Disability Hiring 

Several misconceptions about hiring people with disabilities often stem from a lack of experience or interaction with them. This unfamiliarity can, unfortunately, lead to some negative assumptions. Let’s take a moment to address some of these common misconceptions.

 

Misconception #1: Employees with disabilities are not qualified applicants

Truth: A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people with disabilities are landing jobs at record numbers, with the employment rate for people with disabilities in the U.S. rising to about 21 percent in 2022, up from about 19 percent in 2021.² There are many qualified candidates with disabilities, and employers should not assume that people with disabilities are less capable than others.

 

Misconception #2: Employees with disabilities will be unreliable performers

Truth: Research shows that people with disabilities scored comparably to their peers without disabilities on performance scores.³

 

Misconception #3: Employees with disabilities will need costly accommodations

Truth: Over half of disability accommodations are free. These are often slight adaptations to the work environment or schedule. Job Accommodation Network (JAN) research reveals that for accommodations that do involve a cost, the average one-time expense is typically around $300.⁴ When compared with the average cost of bringing on a new hire, $4,700 according to SHRM, these accommodations are a small cost. For more expensive or complex accommodations, businesses can often partner with their local vocational rehabilitation departments to help to cover the cost.⁵

 

Misconception #4: Employees with disabilities are more likely to get injured at work

Truth: A Walgreens study from 2012 looked at employees with disabilities employed in an integrated distribution center. They found that employees with disabilities experienced a 34 percent lower rate of accidents and injury and had overall lower rates of workers’ compensation claims.⁶

 

Top 6 Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities 

Hiring individuals with disabilities can positively impact your bottom line and help you build a stable, committed, and more productive workforce.

 

1.  Reduced Absenteeism and Higher Retention

Studies, including those by companies like Walgreens, reveal that employees with disabilities often have lower absenteeism rates than their non-disabled peers. They found that their distribution center, which employed more than 30 percent of workers with disabilities, was 20 percent more efficient than comparable facilities without workers with disabilities.⁷

People with disabilities tend to show higher retention rates, which is a crucial factor in industries where turnover is high. Their commitment and the value they place on the stability and structure of employment contribute to consistent attendance. They often report greater job satisfaction, especially in environments that accommodate their needs and promote inclusivity. This not only results in direct cost savings for businesses due to reduced recruitment and training expenses but also fosters a positive company culture.

 

2. Expanded Customer Base

People with disabilities represent one of the largest and fastest-growing consumer groups globally, wielding an impressive spending power of over $500 billion. The American Institutes for Research reports that this group has nearly half a trillion dollars in disposable income, around $490 billion, comparable to other significant market segments like African Americans and Hispanics.⁸

Hiring people with disabilities allows you to better understand and cater to the needs and preferences of this sizable market, potentially expanding your customer base and market share. Additionally, it creates opportunities to connect with other diverse groups, including families, friends, and communities of people with disabilities, further broadening market reach and impact.

 

3. Access to a Large Talent Pool

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 16 percent of the global population, or roughly 1 billion people, live with disabilities.⁹ This statistic points to a significant, yet frequently overlooked, talent pool. By opening your doors to this group of potential workers, you’re doing much more than just filling in job openings. You’re welcoming a host of qualified and skilled individuals who bring unique perspectives and strengths, thereby enriching your teams in ways you might not have anticipated.

While numerous individuals with disabilities possess excellent qualifications, they frequently face underrepresentation in the job market.

 

4. Access to Tax Incentives

While financial incentives should not be the primary reason to hire individuals with disabilities, it’s worth noting that there are tax benefits available specifically for creating an accessible and accommodating workplace. These incentives are designed to support employers in making necessary adjustments to their work environment, ensuring it is inclusive and accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities.

For instance, the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) provides up to 40 percent of the first $6,000 in wages (a maximum of $2,400) for employers hiring targeted groups, including individuals with disabilities.¹⁰ For small businesses looking to make their spaces more accessible, the Disabled Access Credit (DAC) provides a credit of 50 percent on spending between $250 and $10,250, maxing out at $5,000. There’s even a tax deduction for making your facilities or vehicles disability-friendly, allowing deductions up to $15,000.

Apart from these federal incentives, many states offer a range of benefits, including tax incentives, wage subsidies, or training grants, further encouraging the employment of people with disabilities. These tax incentives offer a financial advantage to businesses, helping to offset costs related to workplace modifications and accessibility enhancements, thereby fostering a more inclusive work environment.

 

5. Improved Company Culture

Having a strong company culture is a big deal in today’s competitive labor market. According to Glassdoor, 79 percent of job seekers say they would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job.¹¹ Integrating people with disabilities into your workforce is a great way to enrich your company’s culture. It fosters an inclusive environment that values inclusivity.

It also helps to break down stereotypes, highlighting everyone’s capabilities and contributions. This kind of inclusivity doesn’t just positively shift attitudes; it builds a culture that appreciates and celebrates each person’s unique strengths. Such efforts boost morale and increase commitment to the company’s mission.

 

6. Greater Competitive Advantage

The skills, talents, and insights people with disabilities have to offer can be pivotal in improving your products, services, and processes. They can help you look at your products or services through a different lens, and maybe spot things you’ve missed.

Moreover, cultivating a team of people with disabilities enhances your company’s public image. Stakeholders, including customers and partners, take specific note of such initiatives. In a competitive marketplace where differentiation is crucial, this can become your distinctive advantage. It goes beyond merely filling a job—it’s about enriching your business in unexpected and valuable ways.

 

UNLOCK YOUR BUSINESS’ POTENTIAL WITH PEAK PERFORMERS’ DISABILITY HIRING EXPERTISE

At Peak Performers, we’re committed to bridging the gap between dynamic businesses and talented individuals with disabilities. By partnering with us, you’re not just filling vacancies—you’re infusing your teams with innovative perspectives and unparalleled dedication. Realize the benefits of heightened creativity, improved morale, and a strengthened company culture, all of which are the hallmarks of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Reach out to us today and embrace the competitive advantage that inclusivity brings to your business.

 

References 

1 “Companies that Lead in Disability Inclusion Outperform Peers Financially, Reveals New Research from Accenture” Accenture, 27 Nov. 2023, www.newsroom.accenture.com/news/2023/companies-that-lead-in-disability-inclusion-outperform-peers-financially-reveals-new-research-from-accenture.

2 “Persons with a disability: Labor Force Characteristics” The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/disabl.pdf

3 “10 Myths & Facts About Hiring People With Disabilities” Work to Include, Accessed 17 Jan. 2024, static1.squarespace.com/static/5ebeed8e84f4ba2fc56622a6/t/5f74ef2cd062b825641fde65/1601498924527/WTI_06+Myths+and+Facts_FINAL.pdf.

4 “Costs and Benefits of Accommodation” JAN (Job Accommodation Network), 4 May 2023, www.askjan.org/topics/costs.cfm.

5 “The Real Costs of Recruitment.” SHRM, www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/talent-acquisition/real-costs-recruitment.

6 “Creating an Inclusive Workplace”. Jun. 2012. www.aeasseincludes.assp.org/professionalsafety/pastissues/057/06/062_071_F1Ka_0612.pdf.

7 “The economic argument for hiring people with disabilities” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 22 Jan. 2021, www.nature.com/articles/s41599-021-00707-y.

8 “A Hidden Market: The Purchasing Power of Working-Age Adults With Disabilities” AIR, 17 April 2018, www.air.org/resource/report/hidden-market-purchasing-power-working-age-adults-disabilities

9 Disability – Key facts” World Health Organization, 7 March 2023, www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/disability-and-health.

10 “Employer Guide to Tax Credits for Hiring Employees With Disabilities.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 25 Aug. 2022, “www.uschamber.com/workforce/employer-guide-to-tax-credits-for-hiring-employees-with-disabilities.

11 “New Survey: Company Mission & Culture Matter More Than Compensation” Glassdoor, 10 July 2029, www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/mission-culture-survey/.