November 30, 2021 — An organization’s job design process should be inclusive for both the applicant and internal staff. In GCP’s recent Diversity Professionals Group webinar, we took a deep dive into best practices for hiring individuals with disabilities, position expectations, and recruiting in the equitable job design process.
Our expert panel included: Jared Daly, Regional Coordinator of Workforce Development, Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities; Nicole McKinney-Johnson, Director of Human Resources, The AKA Team & Harvest of Ohio; and LaToya Smith, Vice President, Talent Acquisition Manager, Fifth Third Bank.
The discussion kicked off with panelists sharing tactics they find useful in attracting, hiring, and educating others on the benefits of a diverse workforce. Panelists suggested that business leaders and HR managers become very intentional with salaries. This includes taking a look at compensation across all job levels and making adjustments so that pay is fair and equitable, as well as increasing your organization’s minimum wage.
Also stressed was the importance of not only paying individuals with disabilities the same as you would pay anyone else, but to also set the same level of expectations for the jobs they are hired to do. The key is that everyone should be taking the same types of steps necessary to earn fair and equitable salaries.
The conversation then turned to ways to retain employees once you hire them. Our panelists had several suggestions including:
Give your employees a voice.
Besides pay, it’s critical that your employees are fully supported and that they feel like they have a voice in the organization. Survey them and meet with them, making sure you are doing the listening so that you fully understand what they need to do their jobs. Keep in mind that each person is unique—even two people with the same disabilities need different tools to feel supported and to be successful.
Provide pathways for growth.
Providing opportunities to grow with your business, as well as professional development and tuition reimbursement, can help increase satisfaction and retention.
Set aside specific time to have your employees complete a SWAT analysis to determine their strengths and challenges. Help them create a plan to close the gaps between where they are and where they want to be.
Establish partnerships with colleges and universities and other educational institutions—as well as coaching and mentoring opportunities—so that you can offer the tools your employees need to take the next steps in their career plan.
Allow your employees to be their authentic selves.
Give employees the freedom to be who they are; encourage them to take risks and try something different by creating a culture that’s accepting of failures. Celebrate thoughts and ideas even when they don’t work out because you know it still contributes to your organization moving forward. Give them the sense of safety and security they need in order to be who they really are and express ideas without fear of criticism.
Make your employees feel empowered.
This is a time for employees to venture out of their silos and increase engagement with people inside and outside of their organizations. Give them assignments that step outside of their normal responsibilities, allow them to attend board meetings, and encourage them to shadow other people in the organization. Above all, be transparent and encourage your employees to do their own research and their own homework so that they can get what they need out of your organization.
Encourage personal connections.
Create opportunities for employees to get to know each other on a personal level. Establishing personal connections can help people eliminate their biases, encourage creative thinking, and increase feelings of being empowered—all things that will contribute to a better bottom line for your business.
In wrapping up the conversation, our panelists shared challenges they face—including historical and legislative obstacles—as well as the importance in intentionally establishing partnerships to boost job search pipelines so that all types of candidates are being considered.