Business, Employment, Inclusion Training | Written By Northwest Center Staff

Make It Inclusive: How To Broaden Your Hiring Practices


We know that workplaces benefit the more diverse they become, but the number of unemployed people with disabilities highlights how much change is yet to come. If you or your organization are interested in hiring individuals with disabilities, consider the following advice and tips to find the right employee.

To start, make sure that you have an inclusive recruitment process. Do your applicants use an online system? If so, is this system disability friendly? Some applicant tracking systems screen out people with disabilities, especially if they have limited work experience or haven’t included specific keywords on their resumes.
The interview is a great way to see how the applicant will shine at your organization. Say you’re interviewing an individual with autism. Consider making the interview interactive, perhaps introducing some of the job functions they would be performing once hired. This allows hiring managers to see where the individual’s strengths lie and gives the applicant a taste of the work environment.  It may also allow the applicant to remain focused on the task at hand and minimize any social anxiety over the “traditional” interview format.  
To ensure you hire the person best suited for the job, be sure to define the role. Outside organizations providing job coaches, like Northwest Center, are important to consider during this transitory time. Often job coaches come on for the initial phases and work alongside the employee in an unobtrusive way.  In time, these job coaches fade out as the employee ramps.   Internal to your organization, you can educate current employees on how to best work with this new hire, providing an overview and training on workplace inclusion, for example.
With a person with a disability on your team, work to ensure that communication points are designed to be accessible and inclusive. If necessary, consider getting creative with multiple ways to communicate, such as using technological aids, visual cues and auditory prompts. 
Hiring people with disabilities increases the general productivity of the workplace, but can have some unexpected benefits as well. When polled by the National Survey of Consumer Attitudes, 92% of Americans reported viewing companies who hire people with disabilities in a more positive light than they would otherwise. 87% stated they prefer giving their business to organizations dedicated to employing people with disabilities. In addition, people with disabilities account for the third largest market segment in the United States.
In a study performed by DePaul University, 21 administrators from 16 companies representing three sectors (healthcare, hospitality and retail) provided feedback on hiring people with disabilities. Among the group of individuals with disabilities, participants noted low absenteeism rates (1.24 fewer days for people with disabilities) and long tenures (an average of 26.05 months longer than typically developing employees). They also described their employees with disabilities as loyal, reliable, and hardworking. An additional benefit to hiring people with disabilities was the diversification of work settings, which led to an overall positive work environment.
For more information on hiring individuals with disabilities, check out the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability & Employment Policy’s resource packet or reach out to our Employment Services Specialist Taryn Farley for some quick tips.