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Hiring People With Disabilities Isn’t Just the Right Thing to Do—It’s Good for Business

A new study reveals that hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities doesn’t just improve culture—it improves the bottom line.
What kind of employers hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)? You might imagine that they’re like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life—big-hearted souls that sacrifice their business’s profits to improve their communities. A new study, however, shows that hiring people with IDD doesn’t mean that employers have jettisoned their business interests. On the contrary, hiring people with IDD is good for the bottom line. Mr. Potter should have a look.The study was conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, or i4cp, a company that analyzes the practices of high-performance organizations. Among some of the striking findings are just how many employers believe that their employees with IDD offer specific benefits to their workplaces. More than three-quarters of employers surveyed ranked their employees with IDD as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability, and attendance. Many employers reported being initially leery of hiring people with IDD, only to see their concerns dissolve after the employees were on board.

“The positive impact on the workforce is brought about in two ways: hiring individuals with IDD adds highly motivated people to the workforce (which can lead to increased productivity) and it promotes an inclusive culture that appeals to the talent pool organizations want to attract,” reads the study. “The improved customer satisfaction realized can lead to better sales and customer retention. The enhanced employer brand can translate to a better image in the community.”

People with IDD have historically faced enormous hurdles to getting a job. If they worked at all, it might be in sheltered workshops for significantly less than minimum wage—separate and most definitely unequal workplaces. The employment scenario is hardly any rosier at present, with the unemployment rate for people with IDD remaining tragically high.

Based on the i4cp study, the organization Best Buddies International, which facilitates job placement for people with IDD, launched a media campaign called I’m In To Hire. The goal of the campaign is to convince employers that it is not charity, but in their best interests, to hire people with IDD. The Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies, Anthony K. Shriver, told The Daily Beast, “This study creates an opportunity for us to approach a CEO and say, let’s give this a shot.”

Many employers reported being initially leery of hiring people with IDD, only to see their concerns dissolve after the employees were on board.

“Best Buddies had a lot of anecdotal data that suggested the business benefits of hiring people with IDD. We wanted to find some empirical data to back those stories up,” said Eric Davis, Creative Director & Senior Editor at i4cp, in an interview with The Daily Beast. “There had been studies conducted showing the benefits of employing people with IDD on the employee, but we wanted to show the talent and business benefits for the employer.”

i4cp defines a high-performance organization by four factors: market share, revenue growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction. i4cp has found that diversity and inclusion policies generally are not a hindrance to organizations. In fact, they are correlated with high performance. High-performance organizations are twice as likely as low-performance organizations to emphasize diversity and inclusion as a matter of policy at the highest levels, and more than twice as likely to specifically include people with IDD in their diversity goals.

Among the high-performance companies surveyed, more than 80 percent reported a positive experience with their employees with IDD, and a third reported the experience exceeded their expectations. “You usually don’t see those kind of numbers from HR departments that have started new hiring initiatives,” said Davis. “It’s likely the employers had anticipated certain challenges that weren’t there, and the resources to support them were greater than they had realized.”

The satisfaction experienced by high-performance companies did not surprise Shriver at all. “They’ve hired an effective and enthusiastic employee, and now have lower turnover in those jobs,” Shriver pointed out. “The culture of our schools have changed since we began inclusion of people with IDD. Our offices can transform as well.”

For more information about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, please call Compass, today at 301-625-2406.

For information on financial incentives for businesses for providing opportunities for work to people with disabilities, please visit the following links: