There are currently 40.6 million people with a disability in the U.S., with an unemployment rate of 7.6% among these individuals.
To increase workplace inclusivity for employees with disabilities, companies and recruiters should prioritize mindset, honesty, transparency, buy-in from leadership, and access to helpful resources.
Prioritizing digital accessibility in recruitment signals a commitment to diversity and inclusion, attracting a wider pool of candidates, reducing unconscious biases, and improving the efficiency of the recruitment process.
Early cooperation from executive leadership and cross-functional teams is necessary in order to be successful in the area of digital accessibility.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 40.6 million (12.6%) individuals with a disability in the United States. Of these, 7.6 million who fell within the 18 to 64 age group were employed in 2018. In 2022, 21.3% of people with a disability were employed (up from 19.1% in 2021). The unemployment rates for those with a disability declined in 2022, which is certainly a welcome development.
However, this still leaves an unemployment rate of 7.6% for individuals with a disability, versus 3.5% for those without a disability. This suggests that in the interests of parity and equity, recruitment marketers have some work to do to reach talent with disabilities.
At the present time, 62% of adults with a disability own a desktop or laptop computer, and 72% own a smartphone. With a range of between 16-20 percentage points difference between those with disabilities and those without, this represents millions of prospective candidates that recruiters have yet to reach. This article will cover how companies and recruitment marketing professionals can revamp their recruiting and hiring strategies to ensure accessibility for all.
What to Do Before Revamping Recruitment Strategies
These are some key points that need to be addressed prior to any overhaul of recruiting strategies to increase inclusivity for people with disabilities:
Mindset: One of the first considerations is mindset; companies and recruiters should be mindful that the strategies they’re building (or rebuilding) need to have processes that ensure inclusivity built-in, rather than as an afterthought or as an adjunct in order to be effective.
Honesty and Transparency: Another point is that it is important to be honest and transparent about what these commitments will require. In the same way that companies work to include other marginalized segments of the workforce, inclusivity regarding the disabled population must become built into the company’s culture.
Leadership Buy-In: It is essential to secure commitment to this effort on the part of executive leadership and cross-functional teams early on. In order to be successful, digital accessibility needs to be incorporated into the organizational landscape, and a certain level of cooperation from these players will be necessary in order to achieve this.
Tools and Resources: Finally, a bit of research may be necessary to secure helpful resources in the area of integrating digital accessibility into the company’s recruitment marketing. Blogs, news features, how-to articles, and other resources can provide a wealth of guidance in mastering digital accessibility.
According to Donna Bungard, senior marketing accessibility program manager at Indeed, companies can demonstrate that they offer an accessible workplace long before an individual submits their job application.
“At every stage, work to remove ‘otherness,’” Bungard says. “Include the voice and image of employees with a disability in your website, media and any other way your organization represents itself – and not simply because of the person’s disability. It’s the difference between showcasing a chef who inspires you because he cooks with a disability and a chef who inspires you with great food, and he happens to be disabled. Hiring is always about focusing on the abilities of the applicants. This doesn’t change because of a disability, and if disability is normalized in your company culture, it will show.”
What to Consider in a Digital Accessibility Revamp
With the prerequisites out of the way, it’s time for the organization to identify the areas of function that will most effectively enhance its digitalaccessibility strategy.
Implement Continuous Training and Awareness
Today, there isan abundance of information available concerning digital accessibility and sound practices in the area of implementation. Companies can use this to craft policies whereby accessibility is a component not only of recruitment marketing, but of overall operations as well. A culture that incorporates accessibility benefits everyone in the organization, not just individuals with disabilities. This “from the ground up” approach, combined with being mindful, causes notions of accessibility to propagate throughout the company.
Iterative processes encompass building, refining, and improving projects, products, or initiatives. Teams that use this methodology create, implement, test, and revise processes until the finished product is satisfactory. Feedback from cross-functional teams aids in refining the revision process. As opposed to non-iterative processes (which are more akin to following assembly directions from start to finish), iterative feedback means that professionals refine and improve their projects based on feedback and new information on an ongoing basis.
Tip:Clear navigation and well-structured content benefit all users, not just those with disabilities!
Actionable Accessibility Practices
Now it’s time to put some actionable best practices for ensuring that digital accessibility is top-of-mind across all areas within the organization. Here are six policy areas that will go a long way toward establishing sound accessibility practices:
Perform regular accessibility audits of digital assets, including websites, mobile apps, and documents. These audits help identify existing accessibility barriers.
Incorporate accessibility considerations from the beginning of the design process. Ensure that the company’s website or application page is navigable with a keyboard and screen readers and that the text has sufficient size and contrast.
Include descriptive alternative text for all images, graphics, andmultimedia elements so that screen readers can convey the information to users who are blind or visually impaired.
Regularly test digital assets with a variety of assistive technologies, such as screen readers, voice recognition software, and screen magnifiers, to identify and address accessibility issues.
Encourage a culture of accessibility within the organization, from the executive level to cross-functional teams. Celebrate accessibility successes and continually emphasize its importance.
Clearly document the company's accessibility policies and inform the public about the steps the organization is taking to improve accessibility.
Why Digital Accessibility is Important in Recruitment
So how does all this relate to recruitment, and why is it important? By prioritizing accessibility, an organization signals to potential candidates that it values diversity and inclusion – on a personal level, that it values everyone within the talent pool. This can attract a wider and more diverse pool of candidates, including those with disabilities who may bring unique skills and perspectives.
Digital accessibility measures help to reduce unconscious biases in the recruitment process. When content is presented in an accessible format, candidates are more likely to be evaluated based on their qualifications rather than barriers related to accessibility.
An accessible digital recruitment process can be more efficient and effective. It allows candidates to apply for positions seamlessly, reducing the risk of technical glitches that may deter qualified applicants. It also benefits all candidates, not just those with disabilities. Clear, well-structured job listings, accessible application forms, and easy navigation improve the user experience for everyone.
Many accessibility practices (such as providing alternative text for images or clear headings) can improve the company website's search engine optimization (SEO). This means better visibility in search results and potentially more organic traffic. Accessibility features such as these enhance the overall user experience for candidates and workers with disabilities.
Finally, a commitment to accessibility in recruitment can enhance a company’s employer brand. Candidates are more likely to view the organization favorably if they perceive it as inclusive and accommodating.
By focusing on accessibility, companies encourage innovation and creativity. They also future-proof digital assets by ensuring they can adapt to emerging technologies and standards.
It’s important to remember that digital accessibility is not just a one-time, campaign-based effort, but an ongoing commitment to ensure that the organization’s digital content and services are inclusive and usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities. By prioritizing accessibility, companies demonstrate their commitment to equal opportunity and contribute to a more inclusive workforce.
If you’re ready to revamp digital accessibility practices in your recruitment marketing efforts, feel free toreach out to us!We’re committed to supporting our clients in nurturing a dynamic and inclusive organizational culture. In this environment, our goal is to empower employees and allow them to draw strength from their diverse backgrounds and life experiences to fuel innovative solutions.