Chris Dyer, founder and CEO of PeopleG2, explains how remote working supports disability inclusion whilst simultaneously boosting your businesses’ potential for success.
Tap into new talent pools
Adopting a remote work model offers employers a greatly increased talent pool to draw from, a significant advantage in today’s ultra-competitive labour market. Not only can you consider candidates who are based just about anywhere in the world, but you also can consider candidates who are challenged to come in regularly to brick-and-mortar offices. This includes people with disabilities. For those with disabilities, virtual work diminishes and even eliminates onsite barriers like wheelchair access and unique transportation challenges.
Keep in mind that your company is required to provide reasonable workplace accommodation for different needs, and “reasonable accommodation” covers home workplaces as well as onsite ones. This doesn’t necessarily distinguish disabled from abled employees. In a remote model, you’ll want to set every one of your remote employees up for success, and needs may vary from individual to individual, regardless of protected characteristics. The cost of making reasonable accommodation adjustments can qualify for tax relief as a business expense.
Employ highly skilled and motivated people
There are definite advantages to engaging talent from the disabled community. Most likely you’ll be tapping into a pool that your competitors are overlooking, and you might develop a reputation for being a disability-friendly employer. Talented people with disabilities might seek you out. Writing on 101Mobility.com, Brian Havens (2016) lists top companies hiring people with disabilities, including IBM, Procter & Gamble, Cisco and others. Monster.com’s list (Martis 2019) includes Accenture, Boeing, Disney, KPMG, Wells Fargo and many others. Good company to keep.
Disability isn’t limited to physical issues. You also can consider candidates who are neurodiverse. According to disabled-world.com (2020), neurodiversity is “an approach to learning and disability that argues diverse neurological conditions are the result of normal variations in the human genome.” Such conditions include autism, ADHD and dyslexia.
Neurodiverse candidates can be very attractive. AutismSpeaks.org (2018) says that many employers don’t realise that people with autism, for example, can have “intense attention to detail, commitment to quality and consistency, creative and “out of the box” thinking, the ability to excel on repetitive tasks, lower turnover rates, honesty and loyalty.” Indeed, those with autism are often challenged in the areas of interpersonal interactions and communication, and those characteristics are important in a remote model. However, AutismSpeaks.org and other websites offer resources to help you and your neurodiverse candidates overcome these challenges.
Make a difference in the community
And overcoming challenges is a fundamental drive that we all share, isn’t it? As a CEO your job involves overcoming challenges daily. In all of our communities, disabled people are working to be fully integrated members of society, including making positive contributions to the economy. However, Havens (2016) states that people with disabilities are employed at about half the rate that non-disabled people are. There are, no doubt, many reasons for this, but one of them may be that these well-meaning employers don’t offer remote options.
When you employ disabled persons, you give them the same opportunity to earn a paycheck and be self-sufficient as non-disabled persons enjoy. Not only does that reduce the number of people who may seek public assistance, but it also enhances disabled persons’ dignity and self-respect.
Earn tax breaks and other incentives
As noted above, the cost of making many reasonable accommodations could qualify for tax relief as a business expense. In addition, if you provide a disabled employee with equipment or services (such as large-print documents or wheelchairs), you’ll have no reporting requirements, tax or National Insurance contributions to pay (Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, 2021). That assumes that you provide the equipment or services for the main purpose of enabling those employees to perform their duties. The employees are allowed to use the equipment and services outside of work as well, with no impact on the tax relief.
Expand diversity and inclusion
Few people oppose the social justice agenda inherent in diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, but D&I is also good for business. According to CIPD, a registered charity with a Royal Charter, people want to work for employers with good employment practices. Your robust D&I programmes help you attract talent from both the disabled and abled communities. In addition, your company’s reputation is enhanced by corporate responsibility policies that promote D&I. You’ve probably heard of the Purple Pound, which refers to the spending power of disabled households. Just as you don’t want to overlook those households as consumers, you don’t want to miss out on the talent and unique perspectives that disabled people can bring as employees of your organisation.
Chris Dyer is the founder and CEO of PeopleG2 and co-author of Remote Work: Redesign Processes, Practices and Strategies to Engage a Remote Workforce (Kogan Page).