Maintaining gainful employment is a crucial way for disabled people to participate more freely in society and to create more opportunities for themselves. In addition to the income they earn and the ways disabled people enrich their workplaces through their strengths, experiences and insights, disabled workers play an essential role in changing societal perspectives and proving that disabled persons aren't unable or unwilling to work.
Finding work as a disabled person can be tricky. While many companies abide by principles that forbid them from discriminating against people with disabilities, human resources departments sometimes aren’t used to hiring disabled people. They may think doing so would automatically result in costly accommodations. However, some companies have emerged as leaders for promoting disabled employment.
This notable technology company first assisted disabled people in practical ways before other brands had even thought about it. IBM engineered braille typewriters and similar equipment that offered improved communication devices for disabled individuals.
Choosing to branch out from that pioneering commitment, the company upholds a long-standing tradition of bringing disabled people into its workforce. It has been doing so for decades, even before the Americans With Disabilities Act existed.
In the 1940s, IBM brought a blind psychologist on board to develop a program for hiring and training disabled people. The company has a 40-person team responsible for making sure all IBM products comply with government-mandated accessibility standards and aids partner companies in using the technologies in their workforces. Managers at IBM also receive training about how to make workplaces maximally accessible.
This chain of drugstores in the Philippines has an excellent track record when it comes to hiring people with disabilities. Employees who work for Southstar Drug receive awareness training and orientation from the Unilab Foundation, and the company is excited about the role it’s playing to recognize the inherent potential disabled people have, rather than fixating on the disabilities themselves.
Company representatives say differently-abled people bring unique skill sets to their jobs and have an uplifting effect on everyone. For now, Southstar Drug is mainly employing disabled people in its Manila branches, but such hiring practices will hopefully expand soon.
P&G is the multinational company responsible for making Crest toothpaste, Folger's coffee and much more. The brand also excels at corporate inclusion practices that welcome disabled workers.
The company proudly observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month. During it, the brand took the opportunity to explain some of the things it’s doing to make workplaces more open to those who are disabled.
At one of its manufacturing plants, over 40 percent of the people employed have developmental or physical disabilities and there are similar inclusivity efforts in the brand’s other U.S.-based facilities. Procter & Gamble also has a corporate affinity group for people with disabilities that serves as a resource for disabled employees as well as those who care for them.
Aetna is one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States. It has a standout track record of hiring disabled workers and offering employment options that fit their abilities.
One of the ways it offers accommodation is by providing flexible break schedules for people with identified disabilities that may require more frequent periods of rest. People also recognize Aetna as a worthy provider of remote work that may be more feasible for disabled people who aren’t able to travel outside the home to pursue employment.
Programs like social security in the United States provide supplemental income to people who cannot work due to temporary or permanent disabilities. These benefits make it possible for people to continue familiar lifestyles, even under unexpected circumstances. Programs like this are important, but it’s also vital that employers offer accessible job opportunities to those who have a disability but are able to work.
These companies demonstrate how disabled people are assets to the workforce. They have made it possible for them to participate fully in their positions along with colleagues. Whether you are a disabled person looking for work or just want to filter your job search so it focuses on companies that include everyone, this list is a good starting point.
Sarah Landrum is an expert career blogger and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career and lifestyle blog helping professionals create a career they love and live a happy, healthy life. For more from Sarah, follow her on social media and subscribe to her newsletter.