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EARN 2023 Think Tank: Recruitment in Practice

“Transforming Human Resources (HR) Through Innovative Disability-Inclusive Policies and Practices” participants identified challenges to inclusive recruitment and potential solutions to address them. 

On July 27, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and its Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) hosted a virtual Think Tank, “Transforming HR Through Innovative Disability-Inclusive Policies and Practices.” 

The Think Tank convened employers, consultants, community-based organizations, and disability advocates to identify innovative strategies for increasing workforce disability inclusion, both across industries and at the individual organization level. Discussion centered on inclusion throughout the employment lifecycle, including a session focused on recruitment. This report summarizes challenges to inclusive recruitment identified by participants during that session and potential solutions for addressing them.

Challenges: Recruitment

Participants were asked to think about common barriers to recruitment of people with disabilities, including those who are also members of other historically underserved communities. The following is a summary of participants’ responses.

Solutions: Recruitment

To identify solutions that promote disability-inclusive recruitment, Think Tank participants were asked what changes in policies and practices would have the most significant impact, especially for candidates with disabilities from historically underserved communities. The following is a summary of participants’ responses.


The following resources can help employers implement the solutions above:

Build the Pipeline: Outreach and Recruitment

Building a pipeline of qualified applicants with disabilities is key to inclusive outreach and recruitment. Learning about recruitment sources is a critical first step in this process.

Disability Outreach and Inclusion Messaging: Assessment Checklist for Career Pages

Learn how to ensure your organization’s career pages use messaging and outreach techniques that are inclusive and welcoming to job candidates with disabilities.

Ensuring Accessibility in the Recruitment Process

Ensuring an accessible environment is essential to recruiting candidates with disabilities.

Inclusive Branding and Messaging

Inclusive words and images go a long way toward communicating your commitment to disability inclusion and should be featured in all recruitment materials, from online career pages to individual job descriptions.

Inclusive Recruitment: Applicable Laws and Regulations

Several laws impact the employment of people with disabilities, including at the recruitment stage, and some require certain employers to take proactive steps to recruit people with disabilities.

Online Recruitment and Outreach to People with Disabilities: Research-Based Practices

Research shows that certain practices increase the likelihood of attracting job candidates with disabilities. Examples include inclusive messaging and outreach, accessibility of application processes, and partnerships with service providers.

Resources for Finding Candidates with Disabilities

Working with state and local service providers, such as VR agencies, American Job Centers, Centers for Independent Living, and other community-based organizations, is critical to helping find disabled candidates with the skills, experiences, and interests an organization needs.