Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategies are being discussed more frequently as companies try to ensure their recruitment strategies are up to par. Today, more than ever, organizations are focused on providing opportunities to candidates of all gender identities, races, religions, disabilities, and ages -- taking meaningful steps to ensure that their companies represent a wide range of backgrounds.
Accessibility to jobs has traditionally challenged people with disabilities and continues to do so today. In 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 17.9 percent of people with disabilities were employed, down from 19.3 percent in 2019. Further, the unemployment rates for people with disabilities rose to 12.6 percent, the highest percentage in seven years.
The global pandemic is significantly responsible for shifts in employment. However, there are some bright spots. For instance, because of work from home (WFH) and social distancing protocols brought on by COVID, many organizations moved to virtual hiring processes, with 70 percent of talent professionals claiming that it will be the new standard.
Additionally, the move to remote work arrangements during the pandemic has proven to companies that further accessibility is possible, especially with the stigma of working from home removed. As HR Dive reflects, remote work arrangements could impact the "compliance conversation about whether such arrangements could be considered reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act."
As Hannah Olson, the founder and CEO of Chronically Capable, said, "Going forward, there is a real opportunity for businesses across the country to take the lead in rolling out digital-first, remote workplace plans that help mitigate the risk of coronavirus, but also are inclusive of all Americans -- including those with disabilities and chronic illnesses."
Even with these improvements inadvertently created by the pandemic, employers can take additional steps to ensure the DEIB practices in their recruiting strategies are sufficient. Read on to learn more about making your career site more accessible for people with disabilities.
When it comes to job searches online, your career site often serves as an initial step in a potential candidate's application journey. Therefore, ensuring that your career site is accessible to all talent is crucial when recruiting quality candidates.
Recent studies indicate that talent professionals will play a more prominent role in DEIB strategies post-COVID, especially with 70 percent of job seekers asserting that they prefer to work for an organization demonstrating a DEIB commitment. Additionally, 77 percent of talent professionals believe that "diversity will be very important to the future of recruiting."
Not only are candidates demanding transparent DEIB strategies and holding employers accountable for these strategies, but employers can expose themselves to legal liability for not treating job candidates fairly. As talent professionals know, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act extends to job seekers, and by extension, to employers career websites.
For instance, private businesses with 15 or more employees (and all state and local governmental entities) are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, such as ensuring that the interview location is accessible, providing a sign language interpreter, meeting in a quiet location, or interviewing virtually.
Additionally, numerous states, such as Arizona, California, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia, have issued regulatory guidance or passed legislation, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Initially published in 2008, these Guidelines have been developed in cooperation with individuals and organizations worldwide, "with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally."
Web accessibility ensures that no barriers exist regarding interaction with or access to websites by people with disabilities. When implemented correctly, all users -- regardless of disability -- should have equal access to both information and functionality.
There are four main categories of access you should consider when planning your career site:
Other access points also include candidates who may live with photo epilepsy (seizure disorder triggered by visual stimuli) and candidates with age-related processes and impairments.
Employers can design an accessible career site in several ways. When looking at the list of disabilities to consider, your focus on accessibility should be all-encompassing:
Web accessibility is a complex practice, and many companies may hire an accessibility development expert or outsource to a vendor who specializes in accessibility guidelines. However, not every organization can dedicate resources to a professional web accessibility audit.
Continue reading to find out how you can move towards becoming web accessible -- with or without a specialized accessibility vendor.
Also, don't forget about technology. Incorporate online meeting platforms, such as Zoom, into your career site for virtual interviews or onboarding activities. Don't forget to enable accessibility features such as closed captioning. Digital whiteboards and Kanban boards will help you and applicants stay organized throughout the recruitment process. In addition, in-game accommodations can help employers "evaluate candidates on the basis of their choice throughout the game," unlike traditional psychometric testing techniques.
As we recover from the global pandemic, savvy employers will decide how to reposition themselves in this new normal. Making your career site accessible is one way to not only reposition yourself but help you reap additional benefits as we move squarely into the future of work.
According to McKinsey, "when companies invest in diversity and inclusion, they are in a better position to create more adaptive, effective teams and more likely to recognize diversity as a competitive advantage." Let's see how:
No doubt, boosting your DEIB efforts can positively impact your organization. But how can you get started on planning and testing your career site's accessibility? Luckily, numerous tools are available online, both free and paid-for versions, that can assist you in your goal towards creating an accessible career site. Some of these tools include:
If you'd like to learn even more about accessibility related to the recruitment and hiring process, check out AbilityJobs. AbilityJobs is a job board that exclusively focuses on posting jobs from employers actively seeking to hire people with disabilities. It has an excellent resource center for employers looking to improve their processes and accommodations when recruiting, hiring, and employing people with disabilities.
In a recent interview with Australia's SmartCompany, leadership and HR influencer Brene Brown stated that:
"Especially right now, when we're so anxious and there's so much vulnerability and uncertainty, we need to do more than diversity and equity and inclusion. We need to create real belonging in our culture. . . . Our philosophy on D&I is rooted in two themes: connection and belonging [hence, DEIB]. These elements must go hand-in-hand in the workplace in order to truly make an impact."
Ensuring that companies of all sizes are open to all applicants, ensures that they can foster a work environment that spotlights diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging -- today and into the future.
Are you looking to succeed with your DEIB strategies but don't know where to start? We'd love to help. Contact Recruitics today to learn more!