From the CEO: Disability Hiring

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Image of a Black man with Down syndrome posing at the the counter of the cafe where he works.

Employee of Gigi's Genesis Health Bar

With increasing regularity (yet still not frequently enough) conversations around labor market shortages will come around to hiring those with disabilities.  It is a regular topic with our newsletter and is one of the more common outcome goals with our current Vantage Grant (read From the CEO: Employment or Disability Employment: More Than Hiring). Whether by us or someone else, this topic garners great interest, great energy and great outcomes.

I was disheartened to read a recent Harvard Business Review article that, while recognizing that hiring the disabled is good for a business, provided evidence to that in a manner that was demeaning and bordered on Inspiration Porn (click here if that is a term that is unfamiliar to you). Their objectification of the disabled as a hook to disarm a dissatisfied customer or to provide little more than window dressing to enhance one’s image of being socially responsible was, to me, an embarrassment.

Take a minute and read the article.

Employing those with a disability or who is deaf isn’t like buying a pair of Bombas socks where a purchase is matched by providing socks for an unhoused individual.

Employing the disabled or deaf can be access to a ready workforce with skills. It isn’t “a worthy cause.”

A company’s workforce should be representative of the community. They are not a source of inspiration for other employees or to motivate non-disabled employees to work harder. Hiring a diverse workforce includes hiring those with a disability.

Hiring or retaining an employee with a disability who requires accommodation isn’t done because it models humanity. It is done because it is the law. Yes, you will likely see lower absentee rates and enhanced loyalty from those employees with a disability, but that anticipated outcome shouldn’t be the reason you do it.

A diverse workforce is inclusive of disability. Tokenism or “public appearance” isn’t an inclusive work environment. Harvard Business Review and the authors of this article missed the mark. They did the right thing but for the wrong reasons.