Hiring Employees with Disabilities: Webinar Key Takeaways

October 5, 2021

By Jim Dudlicek, Director of Communications and External Affairs

What resources are available for grocery retailers looking to hire employees with disabilities?

The NGA Foundation recently hosted a webinar to offer guidance on recruitment and training, provide insights on the employment landscape, and make the business case for disability inclusion.

The speakers – James Emmett, lead workplace strategist, and Claire Odom, lead trainer, at Understood; and Matteo Lieb, employment policy and program manager, and Charlotte Woodward, community outreach associate, at the National Down Syndrome Society – offered personal insights about advocacy efforts, promotion of entrepreneurs in the community, and how independent grocers can help break down barriers to enhance their store teams and build a culture of inclusion at their companies and in their communities.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

More than meets the eye. One in four U.S. adults has a disability, which includes vision, hearing and mobility impairments; developmental disabilities; mental illness; chronic health conditions; and “invisible” disabilities, or ones that cannot easily be seen (experienced by 10% of the population).

People with disabilities are the largest untapped labor source, and their unemployment rate is high relative to the broader population. They’ve also suffered disproportionately from COVID-related job losses.

Staying power. If properly supported, people with disabilities can become some of a grocer’s most valuable employees. Workers with disabilities have been shown to have better retention and safety records, be more reliable and productive, and perform as well or better than their peers.

Grocers can express a formal commitment to inclusive hiring by adopting an effective accommodations policy for recruiting, screening and interviewing. Review your job application and screening processes. Establish mandatory training on inclusive hiring. Let applicants know the company is committed to inclusion. Invite employees with disabilities to offer feedback.

Don’t do it as a charity – recognize the value to your business, your workforce and your customers. What retailer wouldn’t want reduced turnover and recruiting costs, improved business results, increased safety and productivity, tax credits and incentives, and new customer opportunities?

Employers can find qualified candidates by connecting with community partners: nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, transition programs, local public school systems and vocational rehabilitation partners.

To view this webinar, click here.