Our President and CEO, Pam Green, penned an Op-Ed in the Cincinnati Business Courier to talk about how individuals with disabilities want – and deserve – to work. And they deserve equitable pay. DEIA efforts are imperative, but they must include those living with disabilities – the third-largest market segment in the United States after Hispanics and African Americans.
Click here to read the original article in the online edition of the Cincinnati Business Courier
Sean Rhorer spent nine years in the army as a combat veteran and did two tours in Afghanistan. Leaving service was a struggle he was unprepared for, and he spent a decade struggling with addiction, incarceration, homelessness and mental illness as a result of undiagnosed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In 2020, he hit rock bottom when he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. Sean involuntarily became a member of the only minority group that anyone can join at any time – the disability community. No one, he thought, will hire a guy who is missing his leg.
Today, Sean is the lead job developer for the Easterseals Redwood Military and Veteran Services department working with clients who, like him, are committed to overcoming challenges and connecting to employment. Job developers work daily to attach people to the power of work. They research and maintain job listings, help clients with their career goals, advocate for them with employers and help to identify solutions for barriers from transportation to childcare. This work is critical to Easterseals Redwood’s mission, and it also strengthens our community and economy.
There are many talented people like Sean in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky who seek employment opportunities that build on their skills and accommodate their disability. Currently, 23% of Easterseals Redwood’s employees have disabilities. The organization also supports nearly 300 people in community employment services.
Americans with disabilities are part of the larger diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) conversation who are often overlooked, have fewer employment opportunities and are paid at much lower rates.
Consider these statistics:
- 61 million adults in America live with a disability.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, the U.S. jobless rate averaged 3.5%, but the unemployment rate for individuals with a disability was 7.6% – more than double the national average.
- The median earnings for people with disabilities are $10,000 less than people without disabilities.
Individuals with disabilities want – and deserve – to work. And they deserve equitable pay. DEIA efforts are imperative, but they must include those living with disabilities – the third-largest market segment in the United States after Hispanics and African Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Companies that hire employees with disabilities outperform their competitors with higher shareholder returns and achieve 30% higher profit margins compared to companies that do not include people with disabilities in their DEIA strategies, according to “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” a research report commissioned by the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN.
Five more reasons to hire people with disabilities:
- They are skilled at adapting to new or difficult situations, making them innovative thinkers and problem solvers.
- They are reliable employees who are consistently rated higher than their non-disabled peers when it comes to absences, punctuality and longer tenures in their positions.
- They have a strong work ethic and can improve staff morale and strengthen teamwork.
- Companies that recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities report increased productivity, customer loyalty and increased profits.
- Customers will respect the company’s values which directly influences their purchasing decisions.
Easterseals Redwood collaborates with leaders across every industry to create effective strategies and best practices for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. We also provide creative ways and helpful tools for companies to authentically represent and reach this virtually untapped market.
Think of what we can accomplish if all businesses throughout the Tri-State make an effort to hire individuals with disabilities. If just 1% more people with disabilities join the U.S. workforce, the GDP could get a boost of up to $25 billion, according to the aforementioned report.
Imagine that impact.