DEI Tips: Hiring People with Disabilities

A Mission of Empowerment and Education

How often do you think of people with disabilities when you’re strategizing your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts?

Do you struggle with knowing what the ‘right’ approach is for your organization and the community?

In episode 30 of the Community Collaborative, we partnered with Ability360, an organization that assists in independent living and advocates for people with disabilities, to discuss how to better include this community. We are joined by the President and CEO of Ability360,Christopher Rodriguez, for an enlightening discussion. 

But, if you’ve only got a minute, we’ve shared five simple tips that will change how you think about employees with disabilities below. 

Acknowledge the Disability Community in Arizona

Disability Demographics in Phoenix

“We have close to one million citizens in the Valley that are living with a permanent disability,” says Darrel Christenson, Vice President, Community Integration, Ability360. In fact, 1,507,677 adults in Arizona have a disability, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Cognitive disability is the most common, followed by mobility and independent living.

Use People First Language

Political Correct Term People with Disabilities

“We would refer to individuals as ‘an individual with a disability as opposed to a ‘disabled individual,’ says Christopher Rodriguez, President and CEO, Ability360. But, he also explains that “It’s more about being included than the nomenclature… When you’re curious about what to call somebody, why not just call them by their name?”

Stop Believing Myths About Employees with Disabilities

Benefits of Employees with Disabilities

“So many studies have been done that show People with disabilities make really good long term employees, and we tend to be loyal and more productive than our counterparts without disabilities,” says April Reed, Vice President, Advocacy, Ability360. “People with disabilities value work in a different way, because they’ve been on benefits, when they make that leap and go back to work, there’s nothing they won’t do to keep that job. They’ll work hard for you.”

Know the Value People with Disabilities Bring to the Table

Why to Hire People with Disabilities

“One of the interesting things about the disability community, in terms of their contributions to their employment, is that you’re talking about a group of individuals who have had to navigate a world that wasn’t built for them. So, when we’re talking about the types of individuals that we want to employ, we’re thinking about problem-solvers, we’re thinking about critical thinkers… and those are characteristics that are built-in people with disabilities out of necessity,” says Christopher Rodriguez, President and CEO of Ability360.

Hire for Your Organization, Not for Charity

Hire People with Disabilties Who Are Qualified

“Hire the qualified individual. If that individual happens to be a person with a disability, so be it. Hire the qualified individual,” says Robin Reed, CEO, Black Chamber of Arizona.  “This isn’t about charity. You’re not doing them a favor, you’re actually creating value for your organization. Anyone who hires someone who can bring value to what their purpose is as a company is doing a good thing. . . When you have a choice of hiring any group of people, start first with the qualifications, and then look to create diversity,”