Recruitment: People With Disabilities

October 13, 2010 12:00 am

Even though companies recognize the importance of hiring employees with disabilities, they are still not hiring enough of these workers, and few are proactively making efforts to improve the employment environment, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

The report, sponsored by the Kessler Foundation and the National Organization on Disability, found that little progress has been made in closing the employment gap between people with and without disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

According to the survey, only 21 percent of people with disabilities ages 18 to 64 reported that they are working either full or part time, compared with 59 percent of people without disabilities.

The 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities was conducted by telephone and online between March 2010 and April 2010 among 411 human-resource managers and senior executives at companies with more than 50 employees. It is the sixth survey in the past 24 years designed to measure the gaps between people with and without disabilities on different indicators and to track them over time. These indicators include: employment, income, education, healthcare, access to transportation, socializing, going to restaurants, attendance at religious services, political participation and life satisfaction.

According to the survey, although 70 percent of corporations polled have diversity policies or programs in place, only two-thirds of those with programs include disability as a component. Additionally, only 18 percent of companies offer an education program aimed at integrating people with disabilities into the workplace. The low figures are particularly notable given that a majority of employers perceive the costs of hiring a person with a disability to be the same as hiring a person without a disability (62 percent).

Among other findings:

  • Only 1 in 5 companies (19 percent) has a specific person or department that oversees the hiring of people with disabilities. This is in contrast to 1995, when 40 percent of companies hired someone specifically for this reason
  • Only 7 percent of companies with disability programs offer a disability affinity group. Employment represents the largest gap between the two groups

“This new survey reveals that most employers are not aware of the unique contributions that workers with disabilities can make, and [they] do little to recruit them,” says NOD President Carol Glazer. “The shockingly high unemployment rate among people with disabilities suggests that employers seeking dependable workers have a rich and ready talent pool of workers from which to draw.”