ADA: Turning Silver Into Gold

June 1

This next month marks the 25th anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and with it, a truly landmark piece legislation that fundamentally redefines how people with disabilities live in our society.

In seeking to build a truly diverse and inclusive workforce so often, recruiters, talent management professionals and business leaders alike fail to see the value in the “disability” market. Yes it one that is separate but equal, and by that I mean that it can also be uniquely intertwined with an approach to speak to the mature market, and needed now more than ever to address an aging workforce of boomers and traditionalists. Given that we have five generations now in a multi-generational workforce, how can we dispel the myths, predispositions and attitudes around unconscious bias ? There are several ways that employers of choice can articulate those varied and salient employer brand attributes that will resonate across audience segments such as millennials, cultures and borders especially when combined with the technology, the right messaging and social media based approaches to building collaboration for a worthy and common cause in our local communities. As my friend Professor Jonathan Kaufman likes to say “it is the one protected class that any of us can join at any time”.

So how can we turn what may be a formidable challenge to some into an opportunity to address an often overlooked segment of the workforce?  

Not only can working to attract the differently-abled to opt-in to your talent community be a great start but consider how you can dovetail the effort across your employee resource groups?  Does your employer value proposition and employer or talent brand hierarchy of messages or themes work into your grassroots approach for using digital engagement strategies to build affinity with key segments of the disability community.


How are you leveraging that investment made to keep your brand consistent across channels via social and mobile media with the differently abled and mature market segments?

Well just as you may have been able to leverage your employee resource groups to understand the value of hiring veterans, consider the implications of how your organization can find new ways to meet the mandated compliance requirements, but ultimately move beyond compliance to find those stories within your own ranks. Seek to recognize and reward those that may come to work every day and overcome the barriers of mobility and transportation that so many face day in and day out, yet through their efforts the job gets done, and they contribute greatly to the productivity and the victories we relish in attaining for our team goals. Celebrate those in your organization next month and every month that are champions in local causes, non-profits, or even public sector programs as ambassadors to those with disabilities. Not only will this be a great way to facilitate the discussion to showcase the culture in your organization via social shares, posts, tweets, and yes awards but consider bringing in interns. For instance, bringing interns into the workplace that may be differently-abled is a sure fire way to begin to change the culture, and with the research showing that so many interns the more connections they have across the organization on social media with your employees on platforms like this one to that workforce; the more likely they are to return and apply for full time employment as shared in a recent LinkedIn study.

Tactics that can help you to address employee engagement and diversity of thought should move beyond just the occasional media placement and corresponding reports from association or niche job posting sites; but ultimately impact the apply actions and conversion rates you are seeing with this audience segment based on more than just candidate race and national origin data. Critical elements that can help you to address not only engagement, but re-skilling to address anticipated needs from the retirement eligible or the recently disabled can help your team to address retention and recruitment for those much needed skills gaps that ultimately can stave off talent shortages. Informed by workforce planning, programmatic ad networks and behavioral targeting are also steps that can help your strategy succeed; but first it may serve your team well to set aside the time to re-examine your talent management objectives and priorities as it relates to the mature and disability marketplaces.

Ask your recruitment and university relations teams are we seeking mid-course corrections that can help us at a baseline to meet the mandated seven percent rule?

If the above question is one you need muster the courage to ask, then you may want to consider joining the following google hangout on July 22nd.

Keeping in mind that 7% of your hiring may have to be PWTD as per the OFCCP the ruling that came out in The 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that went into effect last summer; has not only galvanized for Veterans the need for employers and the Federal government to provide for job training and career development opportunities but resources and for many a unique opportunity to tap into a new sources of programs, portals as well as talent.  Hiring PWTD can quickly and positively impact your morale as well as your ability to build affinity with and across several key stakeholder and non-profit groups that are so large, and so hungry for career related and job opportunity based content; that you might just drive more earned media to your careers focused outlets than you would have thought. In fact it may even help you to offset the investment in paid media with additional tax credits to garner an even greater ROI.

Building your partnership and association marketing strategy is central to addressing new ways to get talent to lean-in and opt-in to your employment brand, careers website, talent communities, and social media outlets.  More than just the right thing to do, the business case is there in so far that 12-15 % of college grads have some form of learning disabilities, because diagnosis have changed, DSM-4 DSM-5 broadens the definition of what certain types of disabilities are. Recruiters and business leaders need to value and accommodate this source of human capital. Case in point, in 2011 the World Bank put out a study that estimated this was an 8 Trillion dollar marketplace. Globally the Mature Market has been valued at 15 Trillion and in the US alone AARP claims 70% of their constituency is anticipated to be dealing with some form of disability in their membership ranks within their lifetime out of a total membership base of 40 Million.

So what are you waiting for telework options, more health and wellness wearables, the IoT, virtual diversity based events, access to free assistive technologies?  If we fail to see the value in retaining and recruiting people with disabilities and leveraging all the tools available to the 21st Century Recruiter are we not missing a truly unique opportunity to build affinity within our own organizations for the employment brand in spite of leadership aspirations and the employee experience I fail to see the logic of why this often overlooked candidate pool should not be paramount to your goals to find the very best and brightest talent and keep them.   Have the discussion and join in on this dialogue, you just might be surprised who you find, as well as what you find in terms of the increase in value and employee engagement and retention.

@GetFindly @JohnBersentes #Get2Seven #PWTD #REDI

Click here to learn more on building your brand to speak to the differently abled.

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