Hello there! I see your signs in the windows and ads online that you are looking for people to fill open positions within your business. I figure it must be hard to find someone with the right qualifications for the work required – and I understand. Ability to perform a job well is very important for anyone to succeed in work. However, many employers overlook one very important pool of talent – people with disabilities.
They believe that because the applicant looks, walks, acts, talks, or hears differently than others in the organization that they cannot perform the job for which they are applying. That is untrue. Sadly, many workers with disabilities to learn to mask (hide) the fact that they are indeed disabled and could use some accommodations for fears of discrimination. Also, many people with disabilities may be forced to work in positions that are not within the qualifications they have, just to be able to work at all.
Another thing that some employers do is not accept life experiences in the place of a formal education. Many people with disabilities experience barriers to attending colleges or trade schools due to lack of accessibility. They may need someone to help them to and from classes – or to help them take notes, or they may need alternative ways of learning or extra time for testing. Some things that are required to do a position can never be learned in a classroom. If a degree is necessary, maybe you can support the employee in earning that degree while still working for you.
One more thing that some employers believe is that it will cost too much to adapt their work environment to the needs of the person with a disability. How fast did workplaces adapt to the needs of the business during the pandemic, when we all worked from home? It may not always be possible to adapt your office to the needs of a person with the disability, but that person might be able to work very efficiently, and with the right accommodations, from home.
So, to the HR Departments out there, please do not overlook the next applicant with a disability just because they are disabled. They may just be the next best leader in your organization.