Disabled Still Get Cool Reception in U.S. Workplace

Even companies with diversity programs often neglect folks with disabilities, survey finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- While many American companies say that hiring people with disabilities is important, few of them actually hire these job seekers or take steps to provide a welcoming work environment, a new survey finds.

The national poll of 411 senior executives and human resource managers found that 70 percent of respondents' companies have diversity policies or programs in place, but only two-thirds of those with programs include disability as a component.

Only 18 percent of companies offer an education program designed to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace, and only 19 percent of companies have a specific person or department that oversees the hiring of people with disabilities, compared with 40 percent in 1995.

Among the other findings:

  • Only 7 percent of companies with disability programs offer a disability affinity group (a group promoting disability awareness).
  • Slightly more than half of respondents estimated what percentage of new hires in the past three years were people with disabilities, and on average the number they came up with was 2 percent.

The survey was released Tuesday by the Kessler Foundation and the National Organization on Disability (NOD). October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Only 21 percent of people with disabilities ages 18 to 64 are working either full- or part-time, compared to 59 percent of people without disabilities, according to data released in July 2010 by the two groups. Those findings suggest little progress has been made since the Americans With Disabilities Act was implemented in 1990, the researchers said in a Kessler Foundation news release.

"America's success in the global economy depends on how well we put to use the productive capacity of every person's talent, skill and ability. This new survey reveals that most employers are not aware of the unique contribution that workers with disabilities can make and do little to recruit them," Carol Glazer, NOD president, said in the release.

"The shockingly high unemployment rate among people with disabilities suggests that employers seeking dependable workers have a rich and ready talent pool of workers from which to draw," she added.

More information

The U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy offers work information for people with disabilities.

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