Turning Scars into Stars: Why Should You Hire People with Disabilities?

March 24, 201712:32 pm642 views

As the words resound ‘people with disabilities’, your mind starts picturing someone on a wheelchair, immobile and unable to perform simple activities of daily life, we normal human beings often take for granted such as standing or leaning over. Or, an image of someone limping all around and fumbling with a walking cane.

As a business leader, hiring people with disabilities might seem like a risky bet. The question that most often bothers recruitment managers is, can these differently-abled contribute to the business and support company growth, when they cannot even help themselves? Well, you should not allow this misleading myth to influence your hiring decisions.

When someone talks about people with disabilities, most tend to view such potential talents in the wrong light. Most assume that people with disabilities, owing to their physical or mental limits, will not be able to provide equivalent performance and contribution to the company as a normal being would do. On the basis of this baseless hypothesis, disabled people remain largely marginalised in the global workforce.

Based on WHO’s World Report on Disability, Switzerland and Norway are at their highest ranks in terms of employment rate, of people with disabilities at 62.2 percent and 61.7 percent respectively. Meanwhile, South Africa and Poland hold the lowest percentage of employing people with disabilities at only 12.4 percent and 20.8 percent.

In fact, as long as these talents are given equal opportunity and supported with adequate facilities, disabled people can work productively and contribute positively to company growth just like their peers. Across the world, people with disabilities prove that they are able to work, contribute, and make achievements in the society.

Most people know the dramatic life story of Stephen Hawking, an English physicist who suffered from paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Or you might have heard about Nick Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker who was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder that cost his arms and legs. Regardless of their flaws, these exceptional individuals proved to the world that people with disabilities are no different from others.

If you want to find new sources of talent who can bring in productive business returns, besides being just an addition to the workforce, it is time you start looking beyond at the most overlooked, ignored and underemployed disabled talents. People with disabilities offer a wider range of skills, qualifications and competencies to your business. Here are some reasons why you should start looking for people with disabilities:

See: EDBI and Philips Co-Invest to Accelerate Healthcare Innovation in Asia

Meet talent shortage

Hiring people with disabilities could be a great solution to meet the talent shortage faced by the current job market and disruptive economy. As Baby Boomers are soon entering retirement phases of their lives, you should start shifting your attention to the untapped sources of talent, perhaps the differently-abled.

We prefer to not call them “disabled”, which sounds harsh in the purview of mankind. Despite restrained physical abilities, such talents are sometimes endowed with skillsets, proficiencies, and motivation to perform excellent in a job role.

Enhance your team’s creativity

Hiring differently-abled talents means you are endorsing a culturally-diverse workplace. In a team comprising of people from diverse backgrounds, you get a chance to seek better insights from a broader base of experience and different perspectives.

In such scenarios, you will spawn remarkable, creative and innovative fresh ideas towards implementing new business strategy, developing new products, as well as addressing organisational issues.

Increase employee morale

Hiring differently-abled candidates is proven to increase your employee morale. By cultivating a healthy and fair workplace culture, where everyone’s contribution is valued and respected, your employees will more likely stay engaged and loyal to the organisation.

Boost your reputation

Providing a chance to prove their mettle, for the differently-abled is not only a noble deed to help them stand on their own feet. It also helps build and boost reputation of your employer brand, as being socially aware, morally responsible, ethical, and an inclusive employer.

Advancements in technology have influenced workplace culture and the way we conduct ourselves at work, in life and interact each other. Experts continue to find ways to overcome limitations of human beings, to include innovating new tools and inventing new techniques which will help the differently-abled perform better at work.

Some of these inventions include screen readers, hearing aids, braille, motorised wheelchairs, and even robotic arm. With these high tech innovations, there is no reason for second thoughts and stopping businesses from recruiting people with disabilities.

The key point of hiring people with disabilities or the differently-abled is to turn scars into stars, from the disability to desirability. Rather than looking at what disabled person cannot do, employers should focus on integration of the differently-enabled and enhance their skills for organisational success with a fair and supportive workplace culture. This will in turn, improve employee engagement, help develop productive workplace, facilitate talent retention and eventually boost the company’s bottom line in the long run.

Read also: AIA Vitality Summit 2017: Changing Behaviours for a Healthier Workforce

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