Money & Business

Disability Support Groups Praise Updated Federal Hiring Guidelines

By / Mar 27, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new regulation implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor that encourages the hiring of employees with disabilities could be a catalyst for doing something similar in your own organization.

The federal government is getting proactive about hiring people with disabilities—and you can follow suit.

The U.S. Department of Labor—while not implementing a firm quota—is encouraging federal contractors to hire more employees with disabilities. The goal: that people with disabilities constitute 7 percent of all employees in each contractor workforce group, according to Disability Scoop. Contractors that don’t show that they’re working to  reach that goal could lose their federal contracts. The new rule was implemented this week.

The move, which could mean as many as 585,000 new jobs for people with disabilities, earned major praise from a key association representing the group.

“Federal contractors represent 22 percent of the American workforce and an aspirational 7 percent hiring goal means the rule will create real jobs, at all levels of seniority, for Americans with disabilities,” Mark Perriello, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), told the publication.

This has long been a blind spot for many organizations. A 2012 study by the Society for Human Resource Management noted that just 47 percent of organizations surveyed focus on hiring people with disabilities in recruitment efforts, and only 40 percent of senior managers in the study made it a priority.

But groups such as AAPD and the U.S. Business Leadership Network have been pushing for improvement. Last year, the two groups joined forces to launch the Disability Equality Index, a disability inclusion benchmarking tool that is in the pilot stage.

How Can You Do Better?

For organizations looking to improve their hiring practices to be more inclusive of people with disabilities, Entrepreneur magazine recently offered some tips. Among them: Consider your business needs and understand the challenges you might face in terms of both flexibility and patience.

“You may need to make accommodations to your physical workspace to accommodate someone in a wheelchair, while you may need to give very specific direction and instructions to someone with ADD,” consultant Steve Hanamura told Entrepreneur.

Have you focused on this kind of diversity in hiring at your organization? What advice would you offer to other workplaces? Tell us your take in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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