Workers with Disabilities Add Business Benefits

New Report Provides Path for Employers Looking to Leverage New Talent Opportunities

Feb 07, 2013, 10:00 ET from The Conference Board

NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  Companies that employ people with disabilities reap numerous benefits. Active recruiting and retention of employees with disabilities, including veterans, can both significantly expand the pool of talent and create new business opportunities, according to a new publication from The Conference Board, Leveling the Playing Field: Attracting, Engaging and Advancing People with Disabilities. Among the poignant conclusions reported: Managers who have supervised an employee with a disability are overwhelmingly likely to recommend hiring workers with disabilities.  Over ninety percent of consumers are more favorable toward companies that hire people with disabilities. And yet, 77 percent of companies still do not take advantage of existing tax breaks and other benefits available for hiring workers with disabilities.

The report was prepared by The Conference Board Research Working Group for Improving Employee Outcomes for People with Disabilities – a project funded in part by the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University ILR School under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, with additional funding from member companies of The Conference Board. The report, authored by Peter Linkow, looks at how employers are building competitive advantage through workplace practices that engage people with disabilities, including recent veterans and older workers.

"Leveling the Playing Field articulates that a strong workforce is an inclusive workforce and helps employers tactically address this issue," said Mary Wright, program director for the research working group and a contributing author to the report. "Efforts to effectively employ people with disabilities can be considered a metaphor for maximizing the potential of all employees and the performance of an entire organization."

Susanne Bruyere, director of Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute and contributing expert to the report, confirmed that "employers also report a number of indirect benefits that can result from hiring employees with disabilities, such as increased overall morale, productivity, safety, interactions with customers, and attendance."

Other key findings in the report:

  • More than one in ten Americans has at least one disability. This share of the U.S. population is only expected to grow.
  • Providing federally required accommodations for disabled employees is not expensive. In fact, in many cases employers had no direct costs.
  • People with disabilities and their families represent a population of 54.7 million and earn an estimated $269 billion, representing a significant market in the U.S.
  • Eighty-seven percent of consumers agree or strongly agree that they prefer to give their business to companies that employ people with disabilities.
  • Employers need to develop improved metrics to further advance the hiring, engagement and promotion of employees with disabilities, including veterans.

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