Type to search

Dear Decaturish – Hiring with disabilities in mind: a win-win for businesses

Business Editor's Pick Metro ATL Trending

Dear Decaturish – Hiring with disabilities in mind: a win-win for businesses

Keith Parker. Photo provided to Decaturish

We accept letters to the editor. Letters to the editor are opinions of the letter’s authors, not Decaturish.com. Everyone has an equal opportunity to submit a letter to the editor. So if you read something here and don’t like it, don’t jump on our case. Write a letter of your own. All letters must be signed and are typically between 500 and 800 words. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and content. We also reserve the right to publish longer letters if we need to. To send your letter to the editor, email it to [email protected].

Keith Parker, CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia, provided the following letter.

Dear Decaturish,

Every October, as we mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), there’s an opportunity to recognize the potential, skills, and worth of individuals with disabilities in our workforce. Yet, a study by Boston Consulting Group this May unveiled a concerning discrepancy: many businesses are underreporting the number of employees with disabilities. The study found that while most companies claimed a mere 4-7% of their workforce had disabilities, the actual figure stands closer to 25%. This vast disparity not only reveals a pervasive misconception but underscores a broader, systemic neglect towards disability inclusion.

Goodwill of North Georgia champions the cause of hiring people with disabilities. For us, it’s about recognizing and tapping into a reservoir of untapped talent, innovation, and distinct perspectives. In Georgia, where 14% of our population grapples with poverty, inclusive hiring becomes not just a moral stance but also a strategic advantage.

National statistics are telling. Only 20% of individuals with disabilities are employed, a stark contrast to the 70% employment rate of those without disabilities. But here’s where it gets intriguing. The Institute for Corporate Productivity found that employees with developmental disabilities contributed to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and increased customer loyalty.

Why, then, should businesses make it a priority to hire individuals with disabilities?

Increased Profitability: A study by Accenture, in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN, states that businesses actively hiring disabled individuals outstrip their peers. These firms boasted 28% higher revenues, double the net income, and a staggering 30% elevation in profit margins. Additionally, companies with a proactive stance on disability engagement witnessed their sales multiplying nearly threefold and profits quadrupling.

Improved Employee Morale & Reduced Turnover: Incorporating individuals with disabilities into the workforce boosts motivation. These individuals, grateful for roles tailored to their skills and interests, showcase unparalleled dedication. The results? Diminished absenteeism and reduced turnover. To substantiate, consider the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report: replacing an employee costs an average of $15,000 for a worker earning a median salary of $45,000. Given that people with disabilities often prioritize stable and reliable employment, their retention rates are commendable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics corroborates this, stating that businesses diversifying their workforce to include people with disabilities reported a staggering 90% uptick in retention of valued employees and a 72% surge in employee productivity.

In the realm of industries notorious for high turnover, like janitorial and warehouse services, Goodwill of North Georgia stands out. Our team that supports these sectors comprises 80% individuals with disabilities, boasting an impressive 10.7 average years of service and a 91% retention rate.

Enriched Company Culture: It’s simple – diversity drives innovation. Those with disabilities offer unique viewpoints, leading to more groundbreaking solutions. Their life journey has equipped them with formidable problem-solving capabilities, proving invaluable in navigating business quandaries.

Access to a Talent Goldmine: The statistics sketch a narrative of an enormous untapped talent repository. With the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities almost twice that of their non-disabled peers, the potential for diverse talents, leadership nuances, and innovative thinking is vast. In 2022, 21% of people with disabilities in the U.S. were employed. When narrowed down to Georgia, this figure stands at 34.4% for individuals aged 15 and older.

Minimal Accommodation Needs: A common myth associated with hiring individuals with disabilities is the perceived high costs of accommodations and the challenges of complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the reality debunks these concerns. Less than 40% of workers with disabilities necessitate accommodations, and when they do, the average cost is often under $500. These marginal costs are overshadowed by the surges in productivity and reduced turnover rates.

So, as we honor NDEAM, our directive is unambiguous. Businesses, hiring managers, and industry stakeholders must champion disability inclusion. As the CEO of one of Georgia’s most substantial retail and workforce training agencies, I implore companies to look beyond ingrained biases. Recognize the unparalleled value individuals with disabilities introduce. It’s time to adopt an inclusive hiring framework – not out of obligation, but because it is astute for business.

— Keith Parker, CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia

Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.

If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $6 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about your community.