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Business Cases

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Why Hiring People With Disabilities Makes Good Business Sense

 
“My employee turnover went down, my WSIB claims went down. I quickly realized that employing people with disabilities was good for business, low absenteeism, higher staff morale, lower turnover (very expensive), higher productivity, and so on”.

Mark Wafer on why he has hired 82 people with disabilities in his Tim Hortons’ stores.1

Hiring people with disabilities is about choosing the most qualified candidate, who happens to have a disability, not charitably giving a job to someone who cannot perform it. By investing in employees with disabilities, you can fill your labour shortages with skilled workers, expand your customer base, increase innovative product development, and outperform your competitors.

More than 80,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians self identify as people with disabilities and 56.8% of this population have a high school or higher education.2 However, according to Census 2006, only 19,690 people with disabilities in the province were employed at the time.

We are experiencing a labour shortage in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is increasing every year. Our province has 70,000 anticipated job openings before 2020, but our working-age population is estimated to decline by 31,859 over the next ten years.3 People with disabilities are an untapped talent pool of skilled workers who can easily and successfully fill this gap in our labour shortage while offering multiple benefits.

Surveys show the benefits of hiring people with disabilities are:

  • Staff retention was 72% higher among persons with disabilities.4
  • 90% of people with disabilities did as well or better at their jobs than non-disabled co-workers.5
  • 86% rated average or better in attendance.6
  • 97% rated average or above average in safety.7
  • 46% of workers who have a disability work harder than other workers.8
  • Employees with disabilities contribute to the workplace with creative, out of the box thinking and problem solving.9

Employees with disabilities are known for their high retention rates and hard work, which can translate into money saved for your business. For example, the cost of hiring and training new employees or going through an internal transfer can be very expensive. The formula below, from the Corporate Leadership Council, calculates the cost-per-hire associated with employees in five categories:10

  • Executive: $21,686
  • Mid-level: $8,291
  • Entry level college: $9,798
  • Entry level non-college: $5,436
  • Internal: $3,168

Hiring people with disabilities can keep these costs down, while keeping key knowledge and experience within your business. Including employees with disabilities can also increase loyalty with your whole workforce, boosting staff morale,11 and helping you become “an employer of choice”.12 When your business is inclusive, workers can see that everyone is valued and feel that they will be treated fairly. As a result, your workforce can become more engaged and your business can attract the best talent.

Employees with disabilities can not only save you money and time, they can help your business reflect the changing market.

“Representing a population of 1.1 billion, people with disabilities (PWD) are an emerging market the size of China. Their friends and family add another 1.9 billion potential consumers that act on their emotional connection to PWD. Together, they control over $9 trillion in annual disposable income globally. Companies and governments seeking new ways to create value for stakeholders must begin acting to attract this newly unleashed cohort.”

Rich Donovan13  

In Canada alone, people with disabilities directly represent a purchasing power of $25 billion per year.14 However, very few companies have focused on this market, leaving a large window of opportunity and waiting profit. Nine in ten Canadians know at least one person with a visible or non-visible disability.15 Add the dollars of these family and friends to that of people with disabilities and you have a consumer base, with a sizeable purchasing power, that is not being reflected in the current market.

It’s not just family and friends who are invested in the business of people of disabilities. 78% of Canadians say they are more likely to buy a product or service from a company that has a policy of hiring people with disabilities over a company that does not.16 Hiring people with disabilities can increase your business’ brand awareness, and help your business become more socially responsible, while also improving your business’ image.

“‘Diversity for growth and innovation’ is one of the Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) values and part of our business strategy. We recognize the value and power of tapping into the full spectrum of ideas and abilities that people possess. Doing just that has been a strong part of RBC’s past success and is crucial for seizing the opportunities ahead. We are competing in a global marketplace, and we know that our growth will depend on an increasingly diverse and global workforce… We grow as an organization and as people when we encourage different viewpoints and ways of thinking — differences that come through diversity.”

Gordon Nixon, President and CEO, RBC17

Employees with disabilities bring a new perspective, different from most of the current workforce. This diverse perspective can inform your business’ practices and products, strengthening your organization and opening you to new markets while expanding old ones.18 Employees with disabilities can also help your business better respond to change.

People with disabilities constantly need to be creative and adaptable just to navigate their lives. The innovative problem solving skills people with disabilities use on a daily basis can offer your business unique ways to address various issues. When you hire a person with a disability, you not only get superb talents and skills, you get life experience and diverse perspectives that can give your business the leading edge.

People with disabilities want to work for you, and they want to buy your products. With skilled and loyal employees at a premium and traditional market growth slowing, can you afford to ignore or stereotype them?

Fortune Magazine19

For more information, please see Myths About Disabilities.

Footnotes

  1. “Mark Wafer responds to ‘Finding jobs for disabled Canadians'”, Ontario Disability Employment Network
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  2. Outlook 2020
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  3. Outlook 2020
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  4. “The road to inclusion: Integrating people with disabilities into the workplace”, White paper, Deloitte, 2010
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  5. “The road to inclusion: Integrating people with disabilities into the workplace”, White paper, Deloitte, 2010
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  6. “The road to inclusion: Integrating people with disabilities into the workplace”, White paper, Deloitte, 2010
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  7. “Data related to employment and disability cost considerations – Myths and facts from: http://www.exec.gov.nl.ca/exec/hrs/disability_supports/for_managers_and_employers/myths_facts.html
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  8. “Key reasons why you should include people who have a disability in your business”, Ontario Disability Employment Network
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  9. Building and educating tomorrow’s workforce newsletter from: http://www.industrymailout.com/Industry/LandingPage.aspx?id=789430&p=1
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  10. “Rethinking disability in the private sector; We all have abilities. Some are just more apparent than others”, Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, January, 2013.
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  11. “The business of employing people with disabilities: Four case studies, Multi-case study report”, Boni-Saenz, A., Heinemann, A., Crown, D., Emanuel, L.
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  12. “Taking action: An HR guide hiring and retaining employees with disabilities”, section – The business case for employing people with disabilities
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  13. Donovan, Rich, “Emerging giant – Big is not enough; The global economics of disability”, March, 2012
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  14. http://www.jobpostings.ca/article/joining
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  15. BMO, “Count Me In” survey, conducted by Pollara, 2012
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  16. COMPAS survey for JOIN, 2008
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  17. http://www.rbc.com/diversity/ceo-message.html
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  18. “Rising to the challenge of diversity: A discussion of the business case”, Alexandra Jones, Work Foundation, 2006
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  19. “Business case for accessibility: How accessibility-awareness strengthens your company’s bottom line”, Bill Wilkerson, 2001
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