I am frequently asked for examples of the benefits derived by companies who hire Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) and Veterans. Often this question comes from an Affirmative Action Planning (AAP) Manager who is looking for support from staffing representatives, hiring managers, and/or executives for their company’s outreach and recruitment activities. This support may take the form of budget dollars—at job fairs or time spent searching for the best recruitment sources online. Everyone wants to know what the benefits are going to be—what is the return on this investment? This article will explore some of the benefits.
Why should you recruit IWDs and Veterans? Most employers are looking for the best talent to make their organizations successful. This usually means jobs are being posted everywhere possible—job boards, state job service websites, career pages, and social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). Some organizations are paying third parties to handle the heavy lifting of posting, interviewing, and making recommendations on who to select. Regardless of the methods, your company is out there looking for and competing with other companies for talent.
If you are a federal contractor or subcontractor, one of the primary reasons to engage IWDs and Veterans in your quest for talent is because it shows good faith toward fulfilling your obligations under the AAP regulations. There are other reasons as well: there is a large pool of qualified workers out there who are disabled and/or Veterans, it is good for your public image, there may be tax breaks, and it is good business.
There are a consistent set of skills most employers believe Veterans bring to the civilian workplace. Each of these translates to a desirable quality or skill that business leaders are looking for in employees:
Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, has this to say about commitment to hiring Veterans in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal:
Sometimes it is difficult to see what skills and abilities a Veteran brings to the table, because translating military experience, skills, and education into civilian job duties literally requires a translator. A quick Internet search will produce several military skills translators including some that employers have placed on their own career sites. Use the translation information to let Veterans know how they are qualified for your open jobs.
Learn more about recruitment, hiring, and retention of Veterans by starting with the CareerOneStop Business Center, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Or, download a publication from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) entitled Support from Behind the Lines: 10 Steps to Becoming a Military-Ready Employer.
Companies are motivated to recruit and hire IWDs for similar reasons as cited above for recruiting and hiring Veterans. Additionally, there are studies that suggest there may be a link to increased revenue potential for employing IWDs. Here are two statistics from the National Survey of Consumer Attitudes towards Companies that Hire People with Disabilities:
There are some other benefits derived from recruiting, hiring, and retaining IWDs:
Some of these benefits may not seem readily apparent; however, social issues can turn into business opportunities. Consider what happened at Walgreens when it implemented accommodations for workers with disabilities. The end result was a new universal design that increased efficiency for its distribution centers in Anderson, SC, and Windsor, CT.
SunTrust Banks’ Mid-Atlantic Chairman, President and CEO CT Hill is quoted on the Employer Assistance and Resource website (EARN):
There are a wealth of organizations and websites that can provide assistance and guidance to employers, whether you are just beginning a campaign to recruit IWDs, or your processes are well established. A good place to begin is with the Employer Assistance and Resource website. EARN is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) under a cooperative agreement from the Viscardi Center. In addition to articles, notices, and references, you can read about other employers’ initiatives and success stories.
Berkshire Associates understands the importance of recruiting, hiring, and retaining IWDs and Veterans. To learn more about these efforts, read the following article, “Top Talent Requirements are Met When You Hire a Vet!”