Supporting Persons with Disabilities Through Inclusive Hiring Practices

Companies can foster a caring workforce while helping the community. One way to do so is by championing the employment of persons with disabilities.

Employers are in a unique position to do more in supporting the larger community by being inclusive and helping vulnerable groups.

This includes persons with disabilities who may face challenges on multiple fronts, especially when it comes to finding jobs. Their disabilities can include limitations to physical mobility, visual impairment, deafness, intellectual disabilities, or autism. However, these limitations in no way make them any less capable at work if reasonable accommodations for their needs are made.

Employment is an important means of providing fair and equitable opportunities to persons with disabilities because it gives them a sense of identity, inclusivity, purpose, and social connectedness.

This is where employers can step up and take the lead in building a more caring workforce and inclusive society by offering job opportunities for persons with disabilities and championing more inclusive hiring practices.

As key decision makers in the hiring process, not only are employers uniquely placed to evoke positive change in their organisations, but they can also inspire others in the industry to do so, serving as role models.

Hiring persons with disabilities not only helps a vulnerable group, it can also reap business benefits for employers too. Here are some ways employers can benefit from being more inclusive:

Leverage an untapped talent pool

People with disabilities have long been excluded from or underrepresented in the workforce based on low expectations and preconceived notions about their capabilities. Persons with disabilities have unique skills and abilities that they can offer to the workforce. Employers should focus on their abilities and strengths rather than their limitations and find ways to enable them to contribute meaningfully.

With ample job support and sufficient adjustment for their different circumstances, many of them are motivated to learn and work hard and have demonstrated good performance in companies across various industries. According to a market research by Accenture, companies that include employees with disabilities in their workforce outperform their peers. At the same time, organisations benefit from innovative thinking, a better work culture and more accessible facilities, as well as increased productivity and lower staff turnover.

Gain new perspectives

Many persons with disabilities have had to adapt and adjust to overcome various challenges in their lives. They bring innovative thinking and offer unique perspectives which can help companies in improving their work processes, or in innovating their products or services.

Creating an empathetic workforce

By hiring persons with disabilities, employers can benefit from their strengths and create a more empathetic workplace culture where diversity is embraced. Employees become more accepting of people’s differences as they interact with those with disabilities, and they gain a deeper appreciation of how everyone can contribute to the organisation’s success. This also helps in the develop your workforce’s soft skills, such as communication, emotional intelligence, people management and adaptability – all of which are critical in today’s workplace.

Taking steps forward

Being open to more inclusive hiring is the first step to getting there. To be effective in doing so, employers should look at how their hiring process can be improved, the communication etiquette, and ensure that job roles are adequately redesigned to cater to a person’s abilities and allow them to contribute.

Employers need to ensure that the onboarding process, office space and any necessary technological equipment are adapted to support and integrate employees with disabilities. It is also important to train employees on how to communicate and interact with colleagues with disabilities to foster a caring workforce.

Companies that need assistance on how to improve their disability and inclusion policies can turn to SG Enable, a disabilities support agency that has a series of resources to help employers on their journey. Another resource that takes place every last Friday of the month is the SBF Foundation Empathy Series.

Collective Partnership for Inclusive Hiring

As an organisation that champions a compassionate and proactive business community, as well as enables businesses to care for their workforce and wider community, the SBF Foundation believes in fostering more inclusive hiring practices.

To that end, the Foundation formed a partnership with SG Enable in 2015 to encourage the hiring of persons with disabilities through SG Enable’s School-to-Work Transition Programme for students from Special Education schools.

The Foundation aims to connect its network of businesses and inspire more employers to open their hearts and minds to a more diverse talent pool. Employers who walk the talk when it comes to disability-inclusive hiring can be recognised with the Enabling Mark by SG Enable. Launched by SG Enable and supported by SBF Foundation in October 2020, this is the first national-level accreditation framework that benchmarks and recognises organisations for their best practices and outcomes in disability-inclusive employment.

With this accreditation, companies that share the vision of building an inclusive society and enabling lives empower persons with disabilities with the dignity of work and, at the same time, gain a positive corporate image and a diverse workforce.

One company that has applied for the Enabling Mark is early literacy provider, School of Concepts. Its founder Mint Lim, who has learning needs, is committed to helping persons from vulnerable communities.

To that end, School of Concepts hired persons with disabilities as classroom assistants, put in place a structured onboarding process for newcomers, as well as implemented compensation and employee benefits for those with disabilities. All co-workers also received training to enable them in working with colleagues with disabilities.

Employers who want to play a part in disability inclusion can apply for the Enabling Mark to be accredited for disability-inclusive employment. Those who apply for the Enabling Mark by 23 April will also be recognised at the inaugural Enabling Mark Awards Ceremony this year.

This article was written in partnership with SG Enable and Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Foundation.