Everything You Need to Know about Diversity and Disability

Everything You Need to Know about Diversity and Disability

The concept of inclusion encompasses respect and acceptance. Inclusion is based on the principle that although we are all different, we are all equal. Inclusion and diversity embrace our unique qualities and individual needs.

Though gender inequality and racial discrimination tend to take the spotlight, people with disabilities remain underrepresented in many aspects of society. Increasingly, leading organizations are coming to recognize the importance of creating a dynamic, diverse workplace, particularly in terms of creating an inclusive environment for people with additional needs.

From non-discrimination policies to mission statements and other institutional guidelines, today’s biggest companies are likely to mention disability alongside various other facets of diversity, such as gender, race, and religious equality. A growing weight of evidence indicates that creating a diverse workplace benefits not only people with disabilities, their families, and society as a whole, but the organization as well.

Disability is integral to diversity. Increased inclusion in the workplace has required significant attitude shifts, with more and more employers recognizing the value of bringing people with alternative needs to the table to share their unique experiences and opinions. By becoming more diverse, companies widen their perspective, helping them relate to and connect with a wider audience, ultimately expanding their market potential.

In this article, we explore the issue of disability in the workplace and how the federal government protects the rights of those with disabilities.

People with Disabilities among Country’s Largest Marginalized Groups

In the United States today, individuals of working age who do not have a disability face an estimated 20 percent chance of becoming disabled at some point in their working life. The disabled sector crosses various other elements of marginalization, including race, gender, education, religion, and socioeconomics. While racial discrimination and gender inequality often attract mass media attention, people with disabilities rarely receive the same level of publicity as these or other types of minority groups.

The Legal Definition of Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects the rights of workers with disabilities.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website defines a person with a disability as someone who has a mental or physical impairment that limits one or more major life activities.

Employers Are Legally Obligated to Avoid Disability Discrimination

Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments throughout the recruitment process, from job advertising to candidate selection, to avoid discrimination against applicants with disabilities. Reasonable adjustments include the following:

  • Requirements listed as critical to the job in the advertisement must indeed be necessary. For example, unless strictly necessary, it could be deemed discriminatory to say in a listing that applicants must hold a valid driver’s license.
  • Employers should provide listings in a different format for people whose disability requires it. For example, the company should provide a listing in Braille for a candidate with a visual impairment.
  • Employers should allow candidates with a disability to apply for roles via alternative methods where the disability makes the stipulated method difficult. For example, if the candidate has a visual impairment, the employer could allow him or her to submit an audio recording rather than insisting upon something in writing.
  • With regard to candidate selection, it is sensible for employers to ask shortlisted applicants whether they require any reasonable adjustments when visiting for an interview. This enables candidates who have not yet disclosed their disability to make reasonable requests, enabling assessors to judge the candidate based on his or her professional merit rather than limitations imposed by his or her disability.
  • With regard to gaps in education or employment, recruiters should make allowances where these gaps are attributable to the candidate’s disability. If necessary, where a person’s disability has affected his or her education or experience, prospective employers should make reasonable allowances and include disabled people with lesser experience or qualifications in the shortlisting process.
  • In terms of an interview, the employer may need to provide an interpreter for a candidate with a disability.
  • Employers should also consider the appropriateness of the interview venue relative to the disability of an applicant. For example, a location that necessitates using stairs would be unsuitable for a wheelchair user.
  • Employers should show flexibility with regard to interview times, bearing in mind that time of day could make a difference in performance for some disabled candidates. For example, a medical condition that causes chronic tiredness may mean that a morning appointment is more appropriate. It should also be borne in mind that certain conditions mean individuals need to eat or take medication at a specific time daily.
  • Employers should consider allowing extra time for disabled candidates to complete selection tasks or exams, particularly those individuals affected by learning difficulties like dyslexia.
  • Finally, employers should consider employing an external recruitment intermediary to avoid subconscious bias.

Censia is a talent intelligence platform that eliminates discrimination and bias from the recruitment process.

Benefits of Censia include 50 percent faster hire times, a 60 percent average reduction in staff turnover, and a 70 percent reduction in recruitment costs.

The interface, which employs intuitive AI, can be used to search a database with thousands of professionals to match ideal job candidate models created by the user. In short, Censia matches employers with top-tier talent, enabling them to find the ideal candidate quickly and precisely every time.

About the Author

Joanna RileyJoanna (Jo) Riley is an entrepreneur, investor, and advocate in technology, and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Censia. Jo has a highly experienced background in building and scaling companies, which she attributes to her deep passion for people and building technologies that allow people to be their best selves. She brings her wide knowledge of the industry to better transform the way enterprise companies hire talent. You can connect with Joanna Riley at @joannakiddriley on Twitter or on Linkedin. Read her full bio here.