Unlocking Potential: The Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities

Puzzle piece with a key in the center

By: Dr. Jonathan Lucus

Most CEOs worldwide consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a strategic business imperative, as highlighted in a 2022 article by Business Leadership Today, emphasizes its importance in fostering a more equitable future. Furthermore, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) affirms that organizations supporting diversity and inclusion may experience countless benefits, including:

  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee well being
  • Retention of diverse talent
  • Enhanced innovation, creativity, and productivity
  • Improved reputation and engagement

Hiring people with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or visually impaired, is an important way to improve DEI at any organization. NSITE, we’ve witnessed first-hand the impact our graduates have on their employers’ bottom lines. Our sourcing program graduates are creating and implementing impactful human resources hiring strategies; our information technology graduates are effectively problem solving; and our customer-centered communication students are bringing in new clients for their respective companies. Businesses benefit from diverse talent.

A recent Deloitte study affirmed that companies with inclusive cultures are 1.7 times more likely to be agile and innovative and 1.8 times more likely to be ready for change. Below are four key areas of consideration to strengthen business outcomes, increase workforce productivity, and build a stronger organization.

Diverse Perspectives Drive Innovation

Diversity in teams brings together individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking. This diversity can lead to a creative ideas and innovative solutions to problems.

When a team is composed of individuals with different perspectives, they bring unique insights that can challenge the status quo and lead to more robust decision-making processes. It helps in avoiding groupthink and encourages a more thorough examination of options.

Companies and organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion often find that it not only enhances their culture, but also positively impacts their bottom line. Diverse teams are more likely to understand a broader range of customer needs and preferences, leading to the development of products and services that better meet the needs of diverse markets.

Access a Larger Talent Pool

According to 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 42.5 million Americans have disabilities. This is about 13% of the noninstitutionalized civilian population. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in 2017 that more than seven million Americans had vision loss or blindness. This includes about six million people with vision loss and one million people who are blind. If employers are not reaching out to this vast untapped talent pool, they are missing out on hiring individuals who have the capability to grow their organization’s programs, lines of business, and, ultimately, revenue.

Boost Employee Morale and Productivity

Inclusive workplaces can enhance employee morale by instituting concrete workplace policies and procedures. These include:

  • Reducing bias in recruitment and promotion processes
  • Providing supportive communities that focus on various aspects of diversity, including disability
  • Fostering leadership that values different perspectives and champions diversity and inclusion
  • Encouraging mentorship to help underrepresented employees advance in their careers
  • Incorporating diverse perspectives in the decision-making processes
  • Providing necessary accommodations to support all employees
  • Seeking feedback from employees to adjust strategies as needed

Attract a Diverse Customer Base

Attracting a diverse customer base through disability hiring practices is a worthy goal that not only promotes inclusivity, but also contributes to positive corporate image. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, people with disabilities have $175 billion in discretionary spending, more than four times the spending power of tweens. Corporations cannot overlook this segment of the U.S. economy. Supporting and acknowledging the disability community has now become a business imperative.

Why It Matters

The focus on the business case for DEI often overlooks the moral and ethical imperatives for creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace. DEI is not just about improving the bottom line; it is about creating a fair and just environment where all employees feel valued and respected. 

Here are some steps to build a business case for DEI:

  • Establish existing costs
  • Underline potential benefits
  • Decide what to measure
  • Start small and prove the benefits
  • Take action

NSITE encourages businesses to embrace diversity and inclusion, specifically by considering persons with disabilities in their hiring practices. To learn more about how you can include people who are blind or visually impaired in your workforce, visit NSITE.