Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and HR

Add bookmark

IDD_Handicapped woman in office

People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are the same as everyone else:  they want to work too.  Having said that, an important question comes to mind:  how often are people with IDDs included in conversations about diversity and inclusion?  It happens, though it is rare.  Most diversity and inclusion conversations are reserved for topics such as gender, race, or pay issues

So, how does HR include these individuals in their recruitment and hiring plans?

IDDs and HR

“The unemployment rate for people with intellectual disabilities hovers around 81%,” David Quilleon said.  He’s the Senior Vice President Global Mission, State Development and Operations for Best Buddies International.  While it seems like a huge number, and it is, the good news is that number is down from 84% in 2015.

intellectual and developmental disabilities

Courtesy:  Mason Stevenson

“Still, it is a huge number of people that want to work, who are qualified to work, who can contribute in a meaningful way, and they are excited about the opportunity to get a paycheck and contribute,” Quilleon said.

READ:  Promoting an Inclusive Culture Through Impactful Initiatives for Diversity

But, what about the business case?

Up until recently, there hasn’t been much data regarding the benefits of hiring people with IDD.  Best Buddies partnered with the Institute for Corporate Productivity, or i4cp, to find out why organizations hire people with IDD. 

Reasons Organizations Hire People with IDD

70% Supports Organizations Culture 47% Internal advocacy from employees
64% Supports diversity & inclusion strategy 43% Measurable or observable business benefits
62% It’s the right choice 41% Public image
57% Good talent matches for open positions 30% Talent acquisition strategy
50% Corporate social responsibility 14% Incentives

Top Benefits

While that data is strong, even stronger still are the benefits realized by companies this class of worker.

47% Attractive, Inclusive Culture Hiring people with IDD promotes an inclusive culture that appeals to the talent pool organizations want to attract.
44% Improved Customer Satisfaction The improved customer satisfaction realized can lead to better sales and customer retention.
34% Enhanced Employer Brand The enhanced employer brand can translate to a better image in the community.
Source:  Institute for Corporate Productivity

Even with the available data, again the number of unemployment for people with IDD is around 81%.  The question is why?

“There’s a lack of information in people and a lot of preconceived, incorrect thoughts,” Horace Porrás said.  He’s the Vice President of HR – Latin America for American Tower Corporation. I’ve always worked in Human Resources and I’ve always believed in the potential and capabilities of people.”

American Tower has hired several employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  He said the employees were truly capable and flawless in the execution of their responsibilities.

intellectual and developmental disabilities

Courtesy:  Mason Stevenson

“If you need people to work on accounting, who are you going to hire?  An accountant.  If you need to someone to work in compensation and benefits, who are you going to hire?  Someone from HR,” Porrás said.  You follow the same principle when hiring someone with an IDD.  Figure out what you need them to do and hire accordingly.

Porrás said don’t be afraid to let these people into your company.  They can be a fantastic asset to the team.

Quilleon went a step further and said those assets include:

Business Benefits for Employers

Culture Fosters a culture of corporate responsibility and promotes a more diverse and inclusive workplace and enhances employee morale.
Office Cost-effective solution to address business needs and improves customer satisfaction results
People Reduces the recruitment and training costs associated with routinely filling high turnover positions, along with lower absenteeism and sick leave than other employees

In summation

To answer the question at the center of this article, how does HR include these individuals in their recruitment and hiring plans?

Start with educating leadership about job candidates with IDD.  Quilleon says HR can learn about and take advantage of resources available to employers who hire people with IDD.

Integrate these employees into the workplace and treat them as you would all employees including setting performance expectations, giving them feedback and rewarding their successes.

Finally, share their success stories internally and externally.  This will help lower the unemployment rate for those individuals with IDD.

“I think hiring is the most difficult thing every single company does, and if you’re a person without a disability or you’re a person with, we’re all complicated,” Quilleon said.  “Recognizing that, the same issues will exist with people with disabilities as will exist with those without, but all of them being part of the company is really important to representing diversity and inclusion.”

Want to know more about HR's role in diversity?  Click here.


Image courtesies:  Stock Photo Secrets and Mason Stevenson