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Mine the Wealth of Diverse Talent

Strong human capital strategies are pivotal to maintaining a competitive advantage. Having the right talent at the right place at the right time is critical. Meet your business goals and objectives by expanding your recruiting, hiring, and retention strategies to include employees with disabilities. Businesses profit from this talent pool.


Based on the labor projections from the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers can expect a workforce shortage within the next five years. According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 79% of companies reported a big gap in their talent pipeline. Many employers are finding success with an often overlooked talent pool — candidates with disabilities. Forward-looking employers are developing proactive sourcing plans to create a recruiting pipeline that includes candidates with disabilities.

Companies seeking talent from entry-level to senior management can increase success by hiring skilled and valued employees with disabilities. For example, employers seeking qualified candidates are expanding into talent pools such as students with disabilities and disabled veterans. Nearly 2.2 million (11%) of emerging college students have a disability. There are over 24 million disabled veterans, including more than 180,000 from the recent war on terrorism – a number that continues to rise.


The costs of replacing employees, including those who acquire a disability, are high, ranging from 93 to 200% of an employee’s annual salary; retaining them makes good business sense. This not only meets ongoing staffing needs, but also reduces costs such as disability liability, workers’ compensation, and staff training.

Anecdotal and survey research indicate that employees with disabilities may be less likely leave a company than their nondisabled counterparts. For example, Hire Potential found that their placements stayed on the job an average of 50% longer than those without disabilities and Marriott employees hired through their Pathways to Independence Program experienced a 6% turnover rate versus the 52% turnover rate of their overall workforce.


When leveraging the strengths of a person with disabilities, you can increase your hiring pool, keep valuable and trained employees, and earn tax advantages. Fortune magazine reported that after Carolina Fine Snacks, a small business in Greensboro, NC, started hiring people with disabilities, employee turnover dropped from 80% every six months to less than 5%; productivity rose from 70% to 95%; absenteeism dropped from 20% to less than 5%; and tardiness dropped from 30% of staff to zero.

Surveys of employers who used the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) show that 50% of all accommodations cost from $0 to $50 and 88% of all accommodations cost less than $1,000. Most employers surveyed also reported that dollar benefits far outweigh dollar costs, and some of the main benefits reported include:

  • 86% of employers surveyed indicated they were able to hire and retain qualified employees.
  • 56% of employers surveyed experienced increased productivity of all employees.
  • 39% of employers surveyed reduced workers’ compensation and insurance costs.

Besides being inexpensive, most accommodations are very simple. For example, as showcased in the film America’s Strength, IBM accommodated a travelling salesman experiencing vision loss by providing additional cab fares, thereby retaining a top performer who closes deals valued from $10,000 to $36 million.

Tax incentives can provide an added benefit for employers by offsetting costs associated with accommodating an employee or making their businesses accessible. These benefits include:

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit – up to $2,400 per year.
  • Small Business Tax Credit – up to $5,000.
  • Tax Deduction to Remove Architectural and Transportation Barriers to People with Disabilities and Elderly Individuals – up to $15,000 per year.



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