Magazine article Talent Development

Turning Diversity into Dollars: A Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities: Training Staff at All Levels Can Open an Employer's Doors to an Untapped Workforce. People with Disabilities Contribute to Organizational Diversity and Are Ready and Willing to Make a Difference in Your Organization

Magazine article Talent Development

Turning Diversity into Dollars: A Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities: Training Staff at All Levels Can Open an Employer's Doors to an Untapped Workforce. People with Disabilities Contribute to Organizational Diversity and Are Ready and Willing to Make a Difference in Your Organization

Article excerpt

Turn to any page in the Wall Street Journal or flip to your local news station, and you will read or hear about organizations trying to cut back in today's bleak economy, and for many human resource departments that means traditional cost-cutting practices, such as hiring freezes or cuts on training programs and fringe benefits. But, cost cutting doesn't have to mean cutting back.

Employing people with disabilities may be an excellent source of productive talent for your company. This group of individuals can help your business decrease turnover and increase the bottom line. There are 19.8 million working-age Americans with disabilities, and this number continues to grow as more soldiers with disabilities return home from the Middle East. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2003 that approximately 62 percent of these individuals are unemployed. The National Organization on Disability reported that the majority of unemployed citizens with disabilities would prefer to work, and the vast majority do not require any type of mobility assistance.

Making the case

There are many benefits to hiring people with disabilities. Employees with disabilities can widen your company's profit margin by reducing turnover, boosting customer loyalty, cutting worker's compensation costs, and gaining financial incentives from the federal government:

* Reducing turnover: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Workforce Preparation found that hiring a worker with a disability is both a retention and employment strategy--workers with disabilities have higher-than-average retention rates and company loyalty.

* Boosting customer loyalty: A survey of more than 800 American consumers found that 87 percent would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities.

* Cutting worker's compensation costs: In March 2008, Walgreens announced that its workers with disabilities cut its worker's compensation costs at its Anderson, South Carolina, distribution center by $17,000 over a nine-month period. Incidents involving workers with disabilities were less costly, there was less property damage, and the workers returned to work in less time. Approximately 43 percent of the Distribution Center's workers were people with disabilities, representing about 185 workers.

* Gaining financial incentives from the federal government when companies hire people with disabilities who meet specific criteria:

1| The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). If your business pays taxes, the federal WOTC has the potential to reduce your federal income tax liability by as much as $2,400 per qualified worker. As an employer, you may take a tax credit up to 40 percent of the qualified worker's first $6,000 in wages paid during the first 12 months for each new hire. For veterans with disabilities who meet specific criteria, the WOTC can be up to $4,800. There are 10 target groups for WOTC eligibility, including people with disabilities who are certified Vocational Rehabilitation referrals, qualified recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work holders. One hotel property in the Tampa, Florida, area had a WOTC of more than $60,000 in 2006 (www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax).

2| The U.S. Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work Program (TTW). SSA's TTW Program provides employers an opportunity to generate $4,800 in the first nine months of employment when they hire a Social Security beneficiary with disabilities, and there is more to be earned over time. Employers must become TTW Employment Networks to participate in the program. There are more than 10 million Americans with disabilities who are Social Security disability beneficiaries, providing hundreds of recruitment opportunities for your business (contact Emily Malsch at emalsch@cessi.net).

3| The WOTC and the SSA TTW Program. Your organization may take advantage of the WOTC and the SSA's TTW Program. …

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