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  • Writer's pictureMeg O'Connell

Four Myths Employers Have About People with Disabilities.

A woman with dark hair, wearing a grey short sleeve shirt and she has a white and black prosthetic on her right arm. She is smiling.
A woman with a prosthetic arm.

Diversity in the workplace pays huge dividends. Period. That fact has been proven by dozens of sophisticated studies. Including this study, “Delivering Through Diversity” from McKinsey.

Yet many employers – large, growing, dynamic and otherwise focused on developing a diverse workforce – repeat myths about people with disabilities.

Unfortunately, perpetuating negative stereotypes and myths about employees with disabilities happens all too often. It can keep you from hiring or promoting your next innovator and valued team member.

Here are the four most common, and quite frankly ridiculous things we hear people say, or ask about hiring people with disabilities. I am here to dispel a few myths.

1.“What kinds of jobs can people with disabilities do?”

This assumes the kinds of jobs people with disabilities can do are limited. People with disabilities perform virtually every kind of job that requires top talent. They are doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, software developers, warehouse workers, call center employees and much more. Whatever job you can think of -- we guarantee you someone with a disability is doing it -- likely even within your own company.

2. “We tried a disability hiring initiative before, but it didn't work out.

Insert any other diversity group into this sentence and you will realize how ridiculous this sounds. This assumes the problem was with the person with a disability and not recruiting or onboarding or training etc. The question we should ask is why didn’t it work? Consider what other barriers may have impeded success. Could the person have succeeded with a simple, low-cost modification at their workstation? Was it not the right fit? Did your team work to welcome and support the new employee? The point is, don’t eliminate an entire diversity segment because a previous initiative stalled or was unsuccessful. You wouldn’t stop hiring women if a female employee didn’t work out.

3. “We don't have any employees with disabilities.”

Yes, you do. It is estimated that 15-20% of your employee population has a disability. 4 out of 5 disabilities are not obvious. Just because you can't see a disability doesn't mean it is not there. Many people with disabilities that are not visible could benefit from disclosing their disability, but do not feel comfortable doing so. As you start creating your inclusive culture and If you make people with disabilities feel supported and you provide accommodations (if needed), they will make excellent employees at every level in your organization.

4. “Employees with Disabilities will increase our healthcare costs.”

No, they won't. Health insurance rates work on the principle that any given group will have a mix of people. Some will never go to the doctor and others will go more frequently. It is also incorrect to assume every person with a disability goes to the doctor more frequently than others. Some will and some won't. Just like some employees will start families and have associated healthcare costs and some will not. You would NEVER turn away a good employee based on their potential of growing a family. So, you shouldn’t do it because a person has a disability.

Now that we’ve done some myth busting – let’s get to creating greater inclusion for people with disabilities at your company. A great place to start is to review your policies, programs and procedures to determine how you are supporting and providing resources for the 1 in 4 adults with a disability. Inclusion means everyone. #DisabilityInclusion #DisabledAndCapable


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