How Hiring People with Disabilities Can Increase Your Bottom Line

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Did you know April is Autism Awareness Month? All month-long people across the world are taking the time to promote autism awareness and acceptance, as well as celebrating the success of individuals who have overcome autistic barriers in the workplace. According to Autism Speaks, the unemployment rate for adults with autism is 85%. Why should your company hire people with disabilities, besides the fact that it feels like the right thing to do? It’s a largely untapped market that can increase your company’s bottom line, as many large, national businesses are starting to realize!

First of all, customers prefer to spend their money at businesses that hire people with disabilities. According to The Conference Board, 87% of consumers agree or strongly agree that they prefer to give their business to companies that employ people with disabilities. That’s a large percentage of consumers that would potentially support your business based on the fact that you hire people with disabilities. It seems silly to not hire people with disabilities based on that fact alone!

Are you worried about having to provide reasonable accommodations or don’t know where to start? According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy service, more than half of accommodations cost nothing to make. And the rest? The typical cost is roughly $500. Your business may also qualify for tax credits and incentives to hire people with disabilities. If you’re not sure what you’d qualify for, read this previous post to learn more.

Companies around the nation have started to notice major improvements since hiring people with disabilities. Reduced training costs, decreased employee turnover, increased productivity, and overall increased company morale are just a few of the benefits. For example, Walgreens started employing people with disabilities in their distribution centers and cut costs by 20%. Reasonable accommodations were made, but nothing that was equal to their cost savings!

Earlier this year, Starbucks kicked off a brand-new training program in Nevada for people with disabilities. The new Carson Valley Roasting Plant and Distribution Center will help disabled adults with on-the-job training. So far, the program has been extremely successful in helping employees “graduate” onto other opportunities at Starbucks. Not only is the new training program helping the entire Starbucks community embrace people with disabilities, it’s creating dedicated employees and has also helped the entire community overcome the disability stigma.

Another great example of how employing people with disabilities can increase the bottom line is Marriott Hotels. It’s well known the turnover in the hospitality industry is very high. Marriott’s turnover rate was around 52% for its entire workforce, but their employees with disabilities only had a 6% turnover rate! Marriott was the first company in the hospitality industry to establish a formal inclusion and diversity plan. Obviously the low turnover rate for people with disabilities proved that this idea worked for them!

Last week Microsoft announced Specialisterne, a brand-new pilot program targeted towards autistic employees. While they haven’t released a lot of information about the Redmond-based program, Microsoft has a quit-rate of only 1% within the disabled employees they already have. In a moving blog post, Mary Ellen Smith, Microsoft Vice President, detailed Microsoft’s commitment to people with disabilities and this new program. It’s great to see a large company leading the way with innovative concepts to include people with disabilities.

If you haven’t been swayed by the ideas above, take a moment to look around you. According to the UN, about 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have some disability. You probably know or know of someone with a disability which could be impacted by changes in the work environment. Spend a moment in April spreading awareness about autism and other disabilities because hiring people with disabilities will increase your company’s bottom line, and change lives.


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