Making Your Recruitment Process More Accessible For Candidates With Disabilities
November 12, 2021

Making Your Recruitment Process More Accessible For Candidates With Disabilities

There has never been a better time for talent acquisition teams to shift to a more inclusive hiring process. The recent momentum towards establishing inclusive hiring practices, combined with the current competitive labor market, is causing recruiters to look toward untapped groups of diverse and qualified talent to fill their roles. Candidates with disabilities are one of the largest untapped demographics and are often overlooked and undervalued. 

A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them. The term “People With Disabilities” refers to a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs, and two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Candidates with disabilities face a variety of unique challenges when searching for a job.

On WayUp’s latest webinar, “Making Your Recruitment Process More Accessible for Candidates With Disabilities,” we heard from talent acquisition leaders who have spearheaded systems to help recruit candidates with disabilities at their organizations. Panelists Bruce Soltys, Assistant Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Travelers Insurance, and Dave Ong, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at Maximus, shared best practices for attracting and retaining candidates with disabilities and the importance of continuous learning as part of your strategy.  Read on for the takeaways.

Where To Start

Internal introspection combined with external education are the first steps towards creating an environment that can attract and retain talented candidates with disabilities. Talent acquisition teams should look for bias or areas of ignorance internally. Then, work with leaders outside of their organization who have demonstrated  success supporting candidates with disabilities. Vocational Rehab Partners, Community Resource Groups, or companies already finding success and looking to pay forward what they have learned are great resources. You do not want to attract candidates to a recruiting process before you ensure that they have an equal opportunity to succeed.  

Many will want to start with monumental efforts that overhaul their hiring process. However, our webinar panelists suggest starting small. When Travelers began focusing on hiring candidates with disabilities, their first class started with eight candidates. This way, they could learn from mistakes or unforeseen challenges before expanding the program, which now takes over fifty candidates per class.  

Overcoming Attraction Challenges

For companies that actively recruit candidates with disabilities, there are some common pitfalls to be aware of.  Unfortunately, lack of internal alignment, lack of workflow organization, and lack of anti-bias training means that attraction and retention can become a significant challenge. 

Similar to how Travelers began their process, Dave Ong explained to webinar attendees how Maximus found success starting small. Maximus established a pilot location for their program in New York, and focused their outreach strategies in the community. They ran events and partnered with local nonprofits to build relationships and show genuine interest in supporting the candidates. Physically being present in recruiting candidates with disabilities also illustrates your commitment to their success.  

Additionally, showing commitment and accountability makes available a largely untapped resource for recruiters, especially those who fear they lack the bandwidth or budget of larger organizations -  the representatives and counselors at the community organizations that work with the candidates have invaluable insight to share about making connections with candidates with disabilities. If these community partners refer candidates to you that have good experiences, they are happy to refer more.

Interviewing and Accommodations 

The hiring process is the “Front Door” to your company for candidates. If your hiring process is not flexible, you are bound to miss out on tons of diverse and qualified candidates. For example, many companies conduct first-round interviews over the phone or Zoom where candidates must be on their toes, ready to answer resume and communication-based questions. This process causes candidates with disabilities who are otherwise qualified for the role to be rejected more than others.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, companies are finding success in shaping the screening process for the candidate. Job shadowing, whiteboarding, and less intense get-to-know-you meetings are all strategies you can use to qualify candidates in an arena conducive to their success. Focusing on what a candidate can do in the interview and not what they cannot do is a great first step. 

Creating an Environment that Supports Retention

A myth hiring managers believe is that they will have trouble retaining candidates with disabilities when it is commonly the opposite. Candidates with disabilities who are successful in an organization are risk-averse and stay with that company longer. Remember that flexibility is the priority. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding and retaining anyone, especially candidates with unique disabilities.  

We recommend learning from your mistakes and inviting those who identify as having disabilities already in your organization to be part of the conversation. Their feedback can be invaluable and can expose issues the talent team may miss. Employee resource groups are also effective at giving employees a home in your company. Like the ERGs for any population that wants one, they serve as a base for good conversation and support for their members.  

More Resources

SHRM, Nace, and Broadfutures are great resources among so many others for anyone looking for more resources to help them evaluate or make changes in their hiring process. Thank you to our panelists Bruce Soltys and Dave Ong, for taking the time to share their wisdom with us! For more details: watch the webinar now!

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