Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer defined as a “nice thing to do” but rather a key component of a company’s brand identity. Beyond contributing to charitable causes, corporations are looking for ways to make a difference, stand out, and become agents of change. If a corporation truly wants to differentiate themselves from the competition, attract new customers, reduce turnover, and change their corporate culture, their number one CSR strategy should be to foster an inclusive work environment that actively promotes diversity.
Diversity offers a myriad of benefits beyond filling positions with skilled employees. When your employees can give you a unique lens to a customer market they can inform advertising, product development, customer service, and more.
People with disabilities in the United States alone represent an annual spending power of $645 billion, and their friends and families—those who would make spending decisions based on how inclusive and accessible a company may be, represent another $8 trillion in annual spending, according to the Return on Disability Group. This is both a talent and customer market that businesses want to engage.
Most importantly, with the national unemployment rate under 4 percent, companies are competing to recruit and retain top talent. Those taking action in reaching talent with disabilities are recognizing measurable and meaningful business outcomes. When people see that your employees are a reflection of their community, a community that you care about, they see that as a business they’d like to support and a place they want to work.
A 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study that found a company's CSR strategy is a big factor in where today's talent chooses to work, with more than 80 percent of those surveyed considering social and environmental issues when choosing an employer. Additionally, 78 percent want companies to address important social justice issues and 87 percent will purchase products or services because a company advocates for an issue they care about.
The next generation of employees is proud to work for an inclusive company. Since millennial jobseekers review a company’s website before applying, we encourage businesses to include a dedicated CSR area on their site.
Last year, more than 400 top business leaders recognized that advancing diversity and inclusion within the workplace is a critical CSR. They formulated the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ to openly exchange ideas, actions, and real-life experiences, to help organizations achieve their diversity and inclusion goals faster than any organization could achieve on its own. Among the companies who have signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge are PepsiCo and Synchrony. Here Synchrony discusses their active recruiting and hiring of talent with disabilities throughout the country: https://www.ceoaction.com/actions/people-with-disabilities-hiring-initiative/.
Ranging across industries and business lines, these companies and others are taking action in hiring people with disabilities to meet their talent needs and have seen real business results including key HR metrics:
- An average 14 percent higher retention rate in the same roles;
- 33 percent decrease in interview-to-hire ratios, saving talent acquisition professionals valuable time while decreasing time to fill;
- 53 points and 28 points higher rates of voluntary “self-disclosure” among jobseekers with disabilities and veteran’s respectively—important compliance results for government contractors and reflecting a positive and inclusive corporate culture.
Talent with disabilities brings alternative perspectives to getting a job done, to solving a problem, and to reaching a goal. It is this unique perspective and life experiences that can contribute innovative ideas, processes and market reach.
Hiring people with disabilities is not about charity, but about smart business.