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Step by Step: Achieving Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

Achieving a disability inclusion goal starts from understanding the competitive advantages of hiring candidates with disabilities. Learn more about it in this blog.

Did you know that one out of four Americans has some type of disability? Yet, only 17.9% of those with disabilities are employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many companies are reluctant to hire workers with disabilities today due to various reasons, namely a lack of disability awareness, fear of legal liability, and concern over accommodations and costs. But what if I told you that by excluding them from the talent pool, you are missing out on unique talent?

In the UK alone, the spending power of people with disabilities is rising 14% per year. Companies around the globe are also losing 13 trillion USD by ignoring consumers with disabilities. We need to pay more attention to disability Inclusion—we cannot ignore the power of this market anymore, and certainly not the unique advantages of employing individuals with disabilities either.

Let’s take a closer look at why it is beneficial to hire candidates with disabilities and some actionable steps you can take to achieve disability Inclusion.

The competitive advantage of hiring candidates with disabilities

Disability Inclusion provides many benefits not only to the individuals with disabilities but also to the organizations that hire and retain them. It offers you:

  • Greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the workplace
    An inclusive culture creates a wider talent funnel, a healthier work environment, and better business outcomes. Including candidates with disabilities in your talent pool means
    bringing different perspectives into your business, which can help you stand out among your competitors.
  • Higher retention rate and lower absenteeism
    In various reports gathered by United Nations, the retention rate of employees with disabilities was found to be 85% as they tend to be more loyal to their employers. Moreover, individuals with disabilities also have less absenteeism and higher productivity rates. Employee turnover can be costly, which means that companies need to put more focus on retention, and employing individuals with disabilities is one way to do so.
  • Unique ability
    Employees with disabilities have insights into how to best serve customers with disabilities, which can help improve the overall experience for a wider range of customers. Furthermore, individuals with disabilities also bring something that others may not have: perseverance. They are facing difficulties in their everyday life and they often need to put more time and effort into achieving the same things as their peers. This perspective leads to a strong work ethic and a tendency to persist despite setbacks.
  • Improvements in profitability
    Eventually, if you have more loyal employees with lower turnover, diverse employees that can help cater to a broad range of customers, and inclusive work culture, you will see the benefits reflected in your profitability. Customers will also recognize and appreciate that you are inclusive to your people.


An important way to contribute to the lives of individuals with disabilities is involving them through active participation in society, such as employment.

Steps to disability Inclusion

The journey to reach disability Inclusion (and overall Inclusion, after all) requires a true commitment from organizations. Besides commitment, you also need a concrete plan to realize the goal. Start by:

  • Ensuring inclusivity is a priority in your hiring process
    You can do this by making your hiring platform accessible to those with visual impairment, including a disability Inclusion statement in the job posting, using inclusive language in job ads, and providing a structured but flexible process, to accommodate the needs of the candidates whenever necessary.
  • Enabling and empowering your people
    Provide regular unconscious bias training and educational programs to your workforce so individuals have a better understanding of each other. You need to create a great employee experience for everyone, so those with a wide range of abilities can work together side by side productively.
  • Providing accommodation
    Disability is not always visible. But you need to be accommodating to both employees with visible and invisible disabilities. Everyone deserves to be accepted, valued, and supported in the workplace. Foster a culture of acceptance so that employees feel comfortable disclosing a disability and asking for reasonable accommodations. Listen to the needs of your employees and adjust accordingly. Allow them to do what makes them most comfortable at work and focus on the outcomes.
  • Paying equally
    Not only are individuals with disabilities less likely to obtain employment, but when employed they also tend to earn less than their peers. Employees with disabilities deserve equal pay and giving them the compensation that they deserve is important if you want to be a truly inclusive and equal opportunity employer.
  • Reviewing your process
    Even with the best intentions, there is always room for improvement in any DEI journey. Periodically review your process and continually evolve it to incorporate your lessons learned. Step by step, you can get closer to promoting disability Inclusion in all aspects of your organizational culture!


As organizations have been talking a lot about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) lately, disability Inclusion is more important than ever. Never discount a candidate just because they have a disability. George Washington was dyslexic, yet he became the first president of the U.S. Beethoven had hearing problems, yet he composed masterpiece after masterpiece. Just because someone has a disability, it does not mean he or she cannot deliver great work.

“Disability need not be an obstacle to success.” —Stephen Hawking

Create a better and happier team with greater mutual understanding among everyone, and start to focus more on unique ability rather than disability. Successes will follow those who can see beyond the immediate challenges.

Check out our other blogs on improving the experience of employees with disabilities in the workplace and get in touch with us so we can help you build a more inclusive workplace!

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Kristin Allen

Kristin Allen is a Senior Manager, Psychometrics on SHL’s Research & Development team, with over 10 years of experience in the talent assessment industry. Kristin is leading SHL’s Neurodiversity Research Program and has expertise in behavioral assessments and competency models. Kristin holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Florida International University.

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