Profit found by Investing in workers with disabilities

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jessica Tabor
  • 28th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity Office
National Disability Employment Month is celebrated every October. This campaign was first presented as an awareness week in 1945. Forty-three years later, Congress changed the name and extended the week to a month.

The theme this year is about the profit that is received when hiring personnel with disabilities. To most, profit generally applies to finances, whereas to others it may refer to advantage or benefit.

Sixteen percent of people with disabilities find themselves unemployed. This percentage is double than those without disabilities. The high unemployment rate can be attributed to employers thinking people with disabilities lack necessary knowledge, skills, have lower productivity, stereotypes, fear of prosecution if they terminate or worry about coworker/customer reactions. The reality is none of this is true.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 42,000 military personnel have been injured in either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The Wounded Warrior Project, a national, bipartisan organization developed to honor and empower wounded warriors, has taken many steps to ensure those wounded are able to transition to civilian life. Veterans with disabilities currently have an unemployment rate of 41 percent, the highest it has been with any other war. The profit that can be made by employers is great, many veterans have ample amount of leadership experience and great multi-tasking abilities. Disabled veterans want a smooth transition back into civilian life and have to struggle with finding employment as well as healing from their injuries.

Forty-five million Americans live with a disability. People with disabilities develop new skills, meet people and feel like a valued member of society when employed. When given proper accommodations, many disabled employees work the same as employees without a disability. Many companies worry about the cost that accompanies hiring a person with a disability, in actuality more than half of workplace accommodations cost nothing. Barbara Otto, CEO of Health & Disability Advocates states:

"Apart from monetary advantages like tax incentives and lower recruiting costs, businesses that practice inclusive hiring will boost workplace diversity, as well as improve the way they think, operate, innovate, and grow,"

This month, take a moment and think about those with disabilities. In an instant, any person can become disabled, either by a car or workplace accident. Every person is a vital asset to a company regardless of a disability. The profit may not just be monetary, but the stereotypes that are torn down when a disabled person begins work speaks volumes of the caliber of the company. President Barack Obama said:

"Generations of Americans with disabilities have improved our country in countless ways. Refusing to accept the world as it was, they have torn down the barriers that prohibited them from fully realizing the American dream."