People with physical disabilities are protected from discrimination in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still occur – sometimes unconsciously. Myths and biases about the disabled often prevent them from being hired or promoted. It’s important to look beyond these biases to ensure you don’t run afoul of the law and continue doing your best to attract and retain quality workers
How to Reduce Hiring Bias
A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, published in 2017, found that employers are less likely to interview applicants who have disclosed a disability. Like it or not, bias occurs – often unintentionally, though this does not make it right. Unconscious biases are based on assumptions and stereotypes that we aren’t even necessarily aware of; they cause us to act in a certain way that doesn’t necessarily reflect who we are. A prime example is passing on a perfectly qualified candidate based on an assumption about their disability.
Another 2017 study, conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation, revealed that 66 percent of workers with disabilities experienced negative bias at some point. Perhaps this explains why the 75 percent of employees with disabilities that aren’t physically visible tend not to disclose this information to their employer for fear they will lose their job, be passed up for a promotion or be treated differently. This is unfortunate for both the employer and employee; by not disclosing this information, the worker won’t receive special accommodations that could help make him or her more productive on the job.
In order to reduce hiring bias in your practice, hiring managers are encouraged to utilize the following practices:
- Use identical interview questions for all applicants.
- Develop behavior-based interview questions rather than hypothetical situations.
- Strive for diversity in your interview teams and hiring managers – and make them responsible for ensuring diversity in hiring, too.
- Train managers to use objective, fact-based hiring techniques.
Eliminating bias in the workplace is good for your company. Diversity in the workplace fosters an environment of inclusion and provides your organization with a wide variety of perspectives that help spark innovation and creativity. Additional steps to reduce disability bias include:
- Establish company-wide bias training.
- Review job descriptions to ensure there isn’t anything in there that would exclude people with disabilities.
- Encourage self-identification among all employees.
- Instruct employees with disabilities to make management aware of potential biases.
- Make sure company events are designed for everyone to participate, including those with disabilities.