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Is your interview process inclusive to people with disabilities? Here are 4 ways to improve how you hire.

While the war for talent continues to intensify, there’s one specific group in the labor market that remains a large and relatively untapped talent pool. And that’s people with disabilities. 

In 2020, only 18 percent of Americans with disabilities were employed, compared to 62 percent of Americans without any disability. And considering that 62 million American adults have some type of disability—that’s 26 percent of the adult population—true inclusion represents a huge opportunity for businesses to bolster their teams with great talent. 

Taking the time to ensure your hiring processes are as inclusive as possible opens up access to this vast pool of talent—people whose abilities have the potential to strengthen your business. So how do you go about making sure your interview process is inclusive to candidates with disabilities? 

In this blog post, we’ll look at why disability inclusive hiring is so important, as well as explore specific strategies that will help you create an inclusive interview process that promotes equity and mitigates bias.

What is disability inclusive hiring?

Disability inclusive hiring practices involve making sure your interview process is welcoming for each and every applicant. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents potential employers from asking about a candidate’s disabilities or health, you can (and should) still create an interview process that is inclusive for people with disabilities. By doing so, you can remove barriers to attract new job seekers, hire top talent, and gain a competitive advantage.

Why is a disability inclusive hiring process important?

Research from Accenture found that companies offering inclusive working environments for employees with disabilities can achieve impressive results. These include 28 percent higher revenue, 30 percent higher profit margins, and twice the net income of their competitors.  

Despite these positive returns, there is still work to be done. Only 13 percent of companies in the United States have reached the Department of Labor’s target for disability representation within a company’s workforce—currently set at a mere 7 percent.

Increased revenue aside, creating an inclusive and positive hiring process to attract people with disabilities to work for your company brings many other benefits too. It can:

  • Accelerate innovation 
  • Increase shareholder value 
  • Improve productivity 
  • Grow market share
  • Enhance company reputation

4 strategies to make your hiring process more inclusive to people with disabilities

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in the workplace is now more important than ever before, and there are plenty of ways to make your hiring processes more inclusive to individuals with disabilities. Here are four strategies you can put to work right away:    

  1. Engage with community groups

    In addition to posting job vacancies on social media and job platforms, consider reaching out to community members in groups or centers that specifically support people with disabilities. These could include government organizations like rehabilitation agencies, colleges or universities that offer disability support or special education services to students, and candidate development programs like NextGen Leaders.  

  2. Offer video interviews

    Video interviews can remove many of the barriers that prevent candidates from attending a physical interview. Some platforms also allow candidates to access tools like live captioning functions. The ability for hiring managers to record and later assess each candidate using video interviewing technology also makes it easier for hiring teams to make objective decisions and evaluate skills across a level playing field.  

  3. Offer additional support as standard

    Don’t expect individual candidates to ask if they need specific support during the interview process. Instead, make it clear to all candidates at the start of the hiring process that they can request any reasonable accommodations they may need. These may include adjustments to the physical environment, or the provision of specific resources. It’s a good idea to include contact information or a form on your site to make it as easy as possible for candidates to request this. 

  4. Create inclusive interviews

    Hiring managers may have unconscious bias around how they expect a candidate to present themselves. But these “gut feelings” don’t really help us choose the best candidate for the job. Some disabled candidates may avoid sustained eye contact or find it difficult to make small talk, but possess all the hard skills to excel in a specific role. Interview scorecards can help minimize unconscious bias. By providing predetermined, consistent interview questions, they give HR leaders and hiring teams a standardized way to compare candidates’ abilities.

Understanding the Disability Equality Index (DEI)

The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a tool used to benchmark the level of disability inclusion in the workplace. This can be a great way to assess how inclusive your hiring process is—and identify ways you could improve. 

Many Fortune 1000 companies participate in the DEI. After completing an extensive questionnaire, each company is given an objective score (from 0 to 100) that rates their disability inclusion policies and practices. Companies with a score of 80 or above are considered the best employers when it comes to disability inclusion.        

Even if you’re not planning on actively participating in the DEI, the benchmarks provided by this index still offer tangible actions that once implemented, will help improve the disability inclusion strategies of any company. DEI recommendations includes factors like:

  • Setting company-wide external hiring goals for people with disabilities
  • Clearly explaining how all applicants have the option to request disability accommodations during the hiring process
  • Putting in place recruitment efforts specifically aimed at hiring individuals with disabilities 
  • Allowing applicants with disabilities the opportunity to opt out of screening tests like personality profilers 

Tracking and measuring inclusive hiring progress

To make your interview process more inclusive of people with disabilities, the first thing to do is assess your current process. Do your current practices meet the DEI recommendations outlined above? If not, it’s time to start making some changes, including implementing those best practices. Creating an accountability framework that all departments can follow can help your senior leadership team know what they should be aiming for and how to get there.    

 To measure your progress, add disability interview and hiring goals to the recruitment metrics tracked by your HR department. You can also track whether job postings with specific community groups or on job boards for people with disabilities led to new hires. Tracking employee retention rates can also help you monitor if disabled employees are choosing to stay with your company. If not, why not? Make sure you regularly ask all employees what they think about your company’s work culture in terms of how inclusive and fair it is, and make improvements where necessary.

Cultivating disability inclusion at your organization

Creating a workplace that champions disability inclusion as standard is not only the right thing to do, it’s also a smart business move. Luckily, there are plenty of strategies to help you create an inclusive workplace that recognizes the talents of each individual employee. True disability inclusion should be embedded within the core values of every corporation—and that process needs to start from the very first step of your hiring process. 

Create a more diverse, inclusive hiring process with AI

Equal opportunities for all should form the cornerstone of your business strategy. Intelligent interview platforms like Clovers AI help support a fair, equitable interview process that is inclusive and accessible for all job seekers. Schedule a demo to see how it works.