Workers with disabilities ‘left behind’ as workforce diversity increases, UNH study shows
- Workers with disabilities “are left behind,” even as workplace diversity increases, according to Feb. 25 research from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability.
- The national disability employment rate rose to 37.6% this year compared to 37% in 2019. This represents substantially slowed growth compared to recent years, the organization said in a statement announcing the findings.
- “Persistence and accountability are crucial to close the gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, CEO of RespectAbility, a nonpartisan disability group, said in a statement. “Hiring people with disabilities is great for employers too.”
These latest findings reveal a continuing trend: The institute pointed to a decline in employment gains for individuals with disabilities a year ago as well.
Contributing to the problem, according to research by the National Organization on Disability, is employers’ failure to prioritize candidates with disabilities in recruitment strategies.
Nontraditional talent pools can help employers find desperately needed workers, experts say. And employers may stand to benefit in other ways, too: a Melwood Economic Impact Study found that workers with disabilities bring substantial economic advantages to their communities through their skills and earning power.
On a broader scale, employers also may need to include workers with disabilities in diversity and inclusion strategies, which requires a look at culture. “One of the most important things that organizations successfully leveraging the talents of people with disabilities do is regularly review and evaluate their cultures to ensure that inclusion is a key element of the company’s corporate values,” Angela F. Williams, president and CEO of Easterseals, Inc., wrote in an op-ed for HR Dive.