April 26th, 2012

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Survey Says Bigger Is Better When It Comes to Companies Hiring People With Disabilities


Large, for-profit organizations take a more active approach to recruiting employees with disabilities than smaller businesses or nonprofits. That’s one takeaway from a recent survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Take a look at slides 19-21 in the version of “Employing People with Disabilities: Practices and Policies Related to Recruiting and Hiring People with Disabilities,” embedded below. In each of the areas related to diversity and inclusion goals, training practices for interviewing people with disabilities, and levels of engagement with community resources to find potential workers, companies with 500 or more employees were significantly more likely to have responded affirmatively. Positive responses were greater for companies identifying with at least 2,500 employees, and even larger still in organizations having a workforce of 25,000 or more.

It’s no great revelation that larger organizations would have more resources to devote to recruiting practices that focused on people with disabilities. It’s also no surprise to see the manufacturing sector tops the industry breakdown list found in the presentation embedded above. Whether an individual with a disability has a master’s degree or is part of a team doing assembly, packing, sorting, or other manual labor task, these kinds of businesses offer the widest variety of occupations.

Some of the other industry categories listed on slides 22 and 23 could actually be found within a manufacturing organization: transportation and warehousing, technical services, maintenance, finance, management; even food services might be part of the mix.

In her recap for the SHRM newsroom, online editor/manager Rebecca Hastings said the survey was conducted in collaboration with and commissioned by Cornell University ILR School Employment and Disability Institute. The survey polled 662 randomly selected HR professionals from SHRM’s membership.

Hastings highlights data points where the majority of survey respondents demonstrate that hiring people with disabilities is on their radar in regards to policy statements on workplace diversity and nondiscrimination requirements for contract labor; but she doesn’t stray away from where organizations fall short on taking action, including this somewhat surprising statistic:

Only about a quarter of organizations (27 percent) said they take advantage of tax incentives available for hiring people with disabilities or set explicit hiring goals for their organizations.

Blogger Don Tennant, who from time to time touches on issues related to employing people with disabilities for IT Business Edge, wrote that he was “encouraged” by the fact that the survey “suggests that the issue is at least on the radar of most employers.” Two positive results he points out are particular interest in ATI and similar organizations: 59% of all respondents require contractors to adhere to nondiscrimination requirements for people with disabilities (making contract services a perfect fit for particular tasks), and 57% have relationships with community organizations that promote the employment of people with disabilities (like StarWorks).

SHRM/Cornell ILR will be releasing two more installments of their survey results in the coming months. The next part will focus on accessibility and accommodation for people with disabilities in the workplace; part three will examine retention and advancement.


Image by Chas Redmond, used under its Creative Commons license.

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