Making your workplace inclusive for the disabled starts with job listings

The wording of a job description can completely change who applies.
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· 3 min read

With more than 11 million open jobs across the US, recruiters face the challenge of not only getting the right people to apply for open roles, but also figuring out what “right” means for their organization. Mileage may vary, it seems.

While some recruiters are getting creative in their search for talent by enlisting the help of TikTok stars like Charli D’Amelio, disabled job seekers are still frequently left out of the recruiting process. Disabled people in the US continue to be unemployed at a rate that’s nearly twice as high as their non-disabled peers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One way HR departments can begin to change that, according to one accessibility expert, is to write better job descriptions that include and encourage disabled job seekers to apply.

Simple change, big difference. Ted Drake, the global accessibility leader at Intuit, told HR Brew there are some simple work adjustments employers can make to attract more disabled candidates that go beyond just checking qualification boxes.

Drake recalls noticing a potential barrier in a job description for a tax expert he was recruiting. “The job description said that they must have excellent verbal and written communication,” Drake said. “But that didn’t cover all the people that were doing the work that were not on camera. So the simple change was adding options, so it was excellent written and/or verbal communication.”

Drake said that for another open role, Intuit decided to remove the college-degree requirement, instead requiring some college and real work experience because disabled people are less likely to have a college education than non-disabled people. “It’s just being more open. Not locking down your job descriptions,” Drake said.

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Barriers to application. Disabled job seekers and advocates say job descriptions featuring language that discourages them from applying are all too common. According to the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), a network that helps employers recruit workers with disabilities, “an effective job description will describe what needs to be done, not how the applicant needs to do it.”

EARN provides several examples of common job requirements that disqualify disabled people. For example, a reporter position requiring someone to lift at least 25 lbs and sit for up to eight hours, as detailed in a HuffPost article, could unfairly exclude many disabled applicants. While these descriptors may describe the job, perhaps the person doesn’t need to physically sit for the entirety of the job, but does need to be at a job station for an extended period of time or be able to move easily around the premises.

The bottom line. Drake urges HR leaders to think about and include disabled people as they’re developing a job posting and suggests recruiters remember the mantra used throughout the disability rights movement: “Nothing about us without us.”—KP

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @Kris10Parisi on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Kristen for her number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.