Updated: Jul 10
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is more than double than that of individuals without disabilities. Historically, people with disabilities are less likely to obtain employment compared to people without disabilities. Discriminatory hiring practices and a lack of access to basic undergraduate education for people with disabilities are to blame. The current COVID-19 pandemic has only made this situation worse.
Companies have begun to ask their employees to come back to the offices in the form of hybrid work options. However, people with disabilities have been requesting remote and flexible work options for years. Since current company practices in place to convince employees to return back to the office have shown that jobs can be done remotely, it is time for companies to address their policies so that they can better accommodate workers with disabilities.
Furthermore, the pandemic has created additional challenges for workers with disabilities who were already struggling. As a result of office closures, much of the hiring process has shifted online. However, individuals with disabilities lack access to the assistive technologies they need to navigate virtual job boards. Additionally, the pandemic has exacerbated the isolation of people with disabilities faced even before the COVID-19 outbreak. With new variants emerging like Omicron, this issue is only bound to get worse.
Nevertheless, there is still hope. Remote working opportunities have opened new doors for people with disabilities. The remote hiring process has leveled the playing field since many people with disabilities have already experienced less stigma in virtual work environments. Not having to commute to the office also presents a very large benefit for workers with disabilities.
Companies need to help address this issue by promoting a more inclusive workplace for people with disabilities. They also need to expand their efforts to recruit more individuals from this area in order to foster diversity. Companies should also partner with local advocacy organizations in order to show their value for employees who are disabled. Resource groups can also be formed by corporations to provide encouragement to these workers who already feel excluded. By working together, corporations can create a more inclusive society for everyone including those with disabilities.