October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and raise awareness about the importance of creating inclusive workplaces. At Merit America, we are committed to building a workplace where everyone feels welcome and supported, regardless of their ability.
Why You Should Care
A diverse and inclusive workforce is essential to the success of any organization. When we hire people from different backgrounds and abilities, we bring together a more comprehensive range of perspectives and experiences. This can lead to better decision-making, more innovative solutions, and a more positive work environment.
Moreover, it also makes us more relatable to our learners, many of whom often share similar backgrounds or abilities, allowing us to connect with them on a deeper level and better understand their needs.
What Merit America is doing
We are actively implementing a series of measures to enhance the inclusivity of our hiring process for individuals with disabilities while recognizing that there is still progress to be made. Here are just a few examples of how we have updated our hiring process:
- Listening and learning: We believe that the best way to promote inclusivity is to listen to those directly affected. That’s why we started by engaging with our employees to understand their experiences with our hiring practices. Through these conversations, we gained valuable insights into the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and identified areas where improvements could be made.
- Disrupting the status quo: We recognize that the traditional hiring process can be challenging for people with disabilities. That’s why we are working to disrupt the status quo and create a more inclusive hiring experience. For example, we have revamped our website language to encourage applicants who can demonstrate many of the required skills and competencies to apply, even if they don’t meet 100% of the job qualifications. We also added an optional text box to our job applications, inviting candidates to inform us of any accommodations they may need during the hiring process.
- Enhancing accessibility: We are committed to enhancing the accessibility of our hiring process. As part of our efforts, we have introduced ‘job trailers’ in our job postings, which not only aid visually impaired individuals but also offer additional support for those who are neurodivergent. These job trailers provide an alternative way to understand and engage with the job requirements, taking into consideration the diverse needs of our candidates, including those who may benefit from different modes of perceiving the information, such as through hearing and observing body language. We also created a flow chart for decision-making on accommodations, adapted from the Job Accommodation Network. This chart helps our team determine the appropriate accommodations for each candidate’s unique needs.
- Monitoring inclusivity: We are committed to continuous improvement and always look for ways to make our hiring process more inclusive. That’s why we continuously monitor our data to identify any disparities in pass-through rates among people with disabilities. This ongoing analysis helps us make data-driven decisions and refine our practices.
How you can help
If you are an employer, there are several things you can do to make your hiring process more inclusive for people with disabilities. Here are a few tips:
- Use inclusive language: When writing job postings and other recruiting materials, use language inclusive of people with disabilities. Inclusive language can shift, and preferences can differ for each person – we recommend reading this article with some tips.
- Provide accommodations: If a candidate discloses that they need an accommodation, be willing to provide it. This may involve changing the interview process, providing assistive technology, or modifying the job duties.
- Be open-minded: When evaluating candidates, focus on their skills and abilities, not their disability. Don’t make assumptions about what a person with a disability can and cannot do.
Conclusion & Resources
In conclusion, as we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Talent Acquisition team is committed to ensuring that our hiring processes are inclusive and give candidates an equitable shot to demonstrate their skills and interests in Merit America. We recognize that diversity in our workforce enriches our organization and that individuals with disabilities bring unique perspectives and talents.
We also want to share some resources we found to be really helpful in our work:
- Other organizations that explicitly prioritize hiring people with disabilities:
- The Nature’s Conservatory Approach to Hiring People with Disabilities
- UConn’s center for neurodiversity & Employment Innovation
- Microsoft’s web page on disability hiring