Editor’s note: This originally appeared on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s blog. The blog is a platform for discussing the wide range of issues facing the disability community and aims to raise awareness about the need for full inclusion in society. The blog can be accessed via the foundation’s website.
The recruitment of talent is one of the fiercest battles taking place in the world of commerce each day. Employers spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually hiring consultants, leveraging social media and posting on big-board recruiting sites just to lure candidates. This investment, however, is yielding varying levels of success, as candidates are faced with a process that, in many cases, is increasingly devoid of human interaction and full of challenges and questions.
These challenges, including increased scrutiny around hiring practices and applications with personality assessments that immediately decide a candidate’s fate, have made the experience decidedly frustrating and disengaging for the applicant. Surely and somewhat begrudgingly, the days of walking into your local business office or supermarket asking for a job on the spot have joined the ole Victrola as a rare find and a reminder of simpler times.
There certainly is. Smart, creative employers are winning the talent battle by exploring non-traditional recruiting strategies, including proactive engagement with the community. Vocational rehabilitation agencies, community based organizations and other providers of employment services, especially to people with disabilities, have long led the way on job-driven training. These agencies have been effectively partnering with employers for many years to deliver high-quality talent that commits for the long term. Employers that foster deeper partnerships with these community agencies are finding that a vast pool of talent is largely being overlooked and they can benefit from engaging that talent.
Together, employers who embrace this approach and partnering agencies are developing innovative pre-employment programs that are providing candidates with not only an immersion into the jobs employers need done, but also the culture of the employer’s workplace. Through these programs, employers are finding talent that is highly engaged and well trained even before their first official day of work. Candidates, too, are winning because they get to explore a career and determine if an employer is the right fit for them.
We know from research, both internal and external, that people with disabilities are proven to be more reliable, more productive, more diverse, more creative and more likely to stay in the workplace. Quite simply, these factors reduce costs and increase profits. Inexplicably, not all employers find value in that data, but those that do are creatively leveraging resources to tap into this pipeline of talent and are realizing a competitive advantage.
In the end, through these innovative partnerships, employers are meeting talent goals and are building a more diverse workforce. More importantly, people with disabilities are realizing that opportunity does truly exist for them in the workplace of their choice. With the bottom line in business more important today than it was yesterday, and the need to address the high rate of unemployment among people with disabilities, it only makes sense that employers look to recruit talent collaboratively with partnering agencies that are far better prepared to do the jobs that employers want done.
Rick Laferriere is Lead Manager of Workforce Initiatives at CVS Health and served as a judge on the Ruderman Best In Business panel. He also sits on a number of local and national advisory councils that create employment pipelines for people with disabilities.