Report: Organizations Misunderstand Value of Employees with Disabilities

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Most organizations fail to offer disability-focused initiatives;
HR and managers lack training and tools

NEW ORLEANS, October 29, 2019 — A new report on workplace disability inclusion found many HR professionals and hiring managers are ill-prepared to hire, retain, or advance individuals with disabilities. The report, from the SHRM Foundation and the Workplace Initiative by Understood, traced this knowledge gap back to a lack of workplace training on disability inclusion programs and low awareness of the value that people with disabilities add.

Nearly all HR professionals (97%) and people managers (92%) say that employees with disabilities regularly perform the same or better than their peers without disabilities. Yet:

  • Sixty-one percent of managers and 50 percent of HR professionals have never participated in disability inclusion training.
  • Less than 15 percent of organizations invest in disability inclusion initiatives at work.
  • Fifty-two percent of HR professionals do not know or say their organizations do not train managers on disability awareness and/or disability sensitivity.

“It’s time we busted some myths about hiring people with disabilities,” said SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. “We’re talking about a high-quality talent pool that remains untapped and underemployed for no good reason.”

“Hiring people with disabilities is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business,” said Patricia Toledo, Vice President of The Workplace Initiative by Understood. “Companies of all sizes can realize significant cost savings from disability inclusion, through tax benefits, reduced turnover, and improved productivity.”

New research from the 2019 Employing Abilities @Work Research Report is part of the Employing Abilities @Work initiative, a partnership between the SHRM Foundation, SHRM and the Workplace Initiative      . Employing Abilities @Work, launching at SHRM’s Inclusion 2019 conference in New Orleans, will help HR professionals and people managers better understand how to build inclusive culture that will hire, retain and advance employees with disabilities.

As part of this initiative, SHRM and the Workplace Initiative will launch a new training for HR professionals, called the Employing Abilities @Work Certificate in January 2020. This new certificate will teach best practices in implementing disability inclusion.

For more information on the Employing Abilities @Work initiative, visit

About the SHRM Foundation
The SHRM Foundation’s mission is to mobilize the power of HR and activate the generosity of donors to lead positive social change impacting all things work. The Foundation is committed to elevating and empowering HR as a social force through its innovative solutions to workplace inclusion challenges, programming designed to inspire and empower the next generation of HR leaders, and awarding scholarships and professional development grants to educate and develop students and HR professionals.  The SHRM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. Learn more at or on Twitter @SHRMFoundation.

About SHRM
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.

About the Workplace Initiative by Understood
The Workplace Initiative by Understood is a social impact program dedicated to creating workplaces where people with disabilities can thrive. Through resources, training, partnerships, and direct support, we enhance the employment readiness of people with disabilities, connect job seekers to meaningful career opportunities, and empower employers to implement disability inclusion. By inspiring companies to embrace difference and build inclusive workplaces, we advance true inclusion of people with disabilities. Learn more at


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