There is a lot of talk about diversity at the moment. That’s why we would like to take a closer look at one aspect of this larger topic: Integration of people with disabilities into the working world. According to the WHO, about 15 percent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, live with a disability. And the number of disabilities is increasing because we are an ageing population and 80 percent of disabilities are acquired later in life. Those with disabilities are now among one of the largest groups of minorities.

What Can Companies Do To Support People With Disabilities?

There are already many enterprises that are playing a pioneering role here: For example, Microsoft has launched a Neurodiversity Hiring Program. There is a huge pool of highly qualified talent with neurodivergencies such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, and Tourette’s syndrome. To hire these candidates, Microsoft has placed an emphasis on assessing candidates’ practical skills. Qualified candidates complete an online technical assessment and, if they do well, are invited to a hiring event. During that event, they spend several days working on technical skills, team building, and interview preparation, as well as conducting interviews in formal and informal settings. But the main focus throughout is assessing whether a candidate has the skills to do the job. Thereby Microsoft rethinks the complete hiring process: it is not about social and communication skills; but only about the practical expertise.

SAP has developed a different approach and strives to create a welcoming environment for its employees with ASD. The company provides one-on-one mentors, who act as job coaches and help new employees settle into their new roles. SAP also encourages “Autism at Work” members to connect and share their experiences with each other. These two examples alone show that successful integration is possible if companies make the application process and the world of work as barrier-free as possible.

Other starting points include:

  • Center diversity and inclusion in your business strategy, supported by C-level management
  • Implementing policies, programs and training that ensure a sensitivity to and understanding of the challenges facing people with disabilities. Thereby focusing on coachings for managers
  • Remove barriers from your recruitment, hiring and career progression processes
  • Building inclusive and safe work environments (psychological and physical safety)
  • Employ diversity manager who actively take care of people and initiatives
  • Partner with outside organizations
  • Partner with specific job portals such as capjob.de, myhandycap.de or integrationsverbund.de

Diversity And Inclusion Only Has Advantages

Accenture released the report “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage” in October 2018 and revealed that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting people with disabilities in their workforces consistently outperform their peers, including having, on average, 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income and 30 percent higher economic profit margins. Because employees with disabilities stay at jobs longer, thus reducing the time and cost involved in recruitment, retraining and replacing personnel.

Other benefits reported by businesses include improvement in productivity and morale and more diversity in the workplace that leads to more creativity, innovation and problem solving. And these benefits can have a real impact on a company’s bottom line.

Other benefits are

  • Teamwork is enhanced, more loyalty
  • Positive impact on employer branding, talent acquisition and retention
  • Improving corporate social responsibility and brand building
  • Unique business opportunities in the untapped consumer market of people with disabilities

Companies cannot lose when it comes to integrating people with disabilities. Quite the opposite is happening: When a company becomes barrier-free, its competitive advantages grow.

For more information please contact our Managing Director Janet Haupka (janet@doneberlin.com).