19 good reasons to hire someone with intellectual disability

For people with intellectual disability it can be really tough to find a job. According to 2012 ABS statistics, people who have intellectual disability are four times more likely to be unemployed than people who don’t have intellectual disability. Often, some of the biggest hurdles between someone with intellectual disability and a job are misconceptions and negative attitudes from employers.

As one of Australia’s biggest employers of people with intellectual disability, we know the benefits of hiring from this talent pool very well.

There are endless reasons to hire someone with intellectual disability, but in this list, we’ve focused on just 19 of these.

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1. They are the best person for the job

Yeah, this one is kind of obvious, but it has to be said.

The reason for hiring someone with intellectual disability could be as simple as them being the best, most qualified candidate for the role.

You just want the best talent – and often the best talent just happens to be someone with intellectual disability.

2. You get a different perspective

Different perspectives lead to the best ideas. In fact, studies have shown that socially diverse groups are more innovative than homogenous groups.

Perspective is the way that we see the world. It is shaped by our values, our experiences and our assumptions. By hiring people with intellectual disability, you may just be welcoming the different new outlook your business needs.

3. It boosts morale

We are consistently in awe of the boost to morale that often follows hiring someone with intellectual disability. It creates a strong sense of goodwill, care and camaraderie around the office.

The best thing? It’s not forced! It just tends to happen naturally.

Steven smiling

“Getting a smile from someone makes my day. You can’t buy a smile. If I get a smile I’m happy. That’s what matters, hey. If I say something funny and they smile it’s a good day.” - Steven

4. It can mean a lot to the individual

People with intellectual disability are often overlooked in the hiring process.

Many people with intellectual disability who are job hunting have been at it for a while. Rejection, which comes with a lengthy job search, can be utterly soul-crushing. On the other hand, getting a job offer can be an immensely positive experience.

When speaking with people at our sites, many of them say that getting a job offer was one of the happiest moments of their life.

Corey smiling

Here’s Corey’s take on what getting a job meant to him:

“I wanted a job so bad. I was looking and looking on all these job websites and I couldn’t find the right job. I looked at so many jobs. Maybe like 5 or 6 a day! None of them suited my requirements. They were all like standing up jobs.

Getting rejected made me feel weird and sad. But I get over it because not everyone can get the job.

However, when I went to my meeting, they told me about Endeavour Foundation and gave me a card.

When I found out I got this job I was so happy. So happy that I even went out to drinks to celebrate getting this job.

It’s so hard for people with disabilities to get a job. Because companies don’t really employ people with disabilities. It makes me feel discriminated against… Is that the word? Yeah. I feel discriminated against.

I like it when people are get a fair go and get to work. It’s important so they don’t feel down on themselves and so they can feel proud that they are actually getting out and working instead of sitting on their bums.

I’m a very hard worker. I’m dedicated, I’m loyal and I respect the people around me and I do as I’m told.”

5. People with intellectual disability are often great at innovating

Often, things aren’t designed with people with intellectual disability in mind, so they get creative — constantly thinking of workarounds, different ways of doing things and creative contingencies to get the job done.

Imagine if you could add this thinking to your business?

James smiling

I’m known as a Mr Fixit around here. I’m very good at fixing things and finding solutions to problems.

Basically, if something goes wrong, I’m there to solve the problem. I always give it a go. Sometimes it’s very hard.

When I solve a problem and someone says thank you I feel quite relaxed and happy and like I’ve done a good job.

I’m pretty helpful around this place.” - James

6. They can help you understand your customers

1 in 5 Australians has a disability.

Having a workforce that reflects your customers and the wider community makes business sense. It means that you can better understand your customer’s experience and provide services and products that meet their needs.

By not taking the disability community into account, you could find yourself unable to connect to a really big share of the market.

7. It shows that, as an organisation, you care

It’s one thing to say you care on a poster, it’s another thing to back it up with tangible action. By employing people with intellectual disability, it champions your organisational values in a strong and real way.

Providing equal opportunity is providing equal rights. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do.

8. You can add diversity to your workforce

Imagine, for a second, that everyone in your organisation has exactly the same skillset and background. It wouldn’t work. Diversity is a critical ingredient in the success of a business.

9. You can rely on them

‘I’m scared they might need to take too much time off’ is one of the main worries people have about employing someone with an intellectual disability, but it’s actually the opposite!

Evidence has shown that people with disabilities tend to take fewer days off and take less sick leave. One study found that people with disabilities are almost 40% less likely to take time off compared to their colleagues.

Not only that, they tend to stay in jobs longer than other workers.

It’s something we notice here at Endeavour Foundation, too. Where we work, it’s not strange to meet someone who has worked here for see 30, 40 and even 50 years.

Alison smiling

“I’ve been working here for 29 years. 30 years next year!

I like working because instead of staying at home with four walls I go out and just do my work and make friends and do something rather than just be bored at home.” - Alison

10. You’d be taking affirmative action against discrimination

Discrimination against Australia’s disability community is happening in heartbreakingly high numbers.

Employers have a legal responsibility not to discriminate against people with disability.

The Australian Human Rights Commission says “Disability discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably, or not given the same opportunities, as others in a similar situation because of their disability.”

While it is against the law to discriminate against someone who has a disability, it still happens.

11. They are less likely to get into work related accidents

Lots of people think that people with disabilities would be more likely to get into work related accidents, but studies have actually proven the opposite – and this makes sense.

People who have disabilities are often on the lookout for potential hazards, which means they often have safety at the front of their minds.

12. It doesn’t cost any more (in fact, it might actually cost you less)

There are a range of initiatives run by the government to help people with disabilities get a job. Some of these are aimed at making it easier to employ someone with disability. If you are thinking of hiring someone with disability, it’s worth taking a look at what help might be available to your organisation.

13. It could be you one day

Just because you weren’t born with a disability doesn’t mean you won’t acquire one later in life. Disability, whether it be physical or intellectual, can happen to anyone and one day the shoe may just be on the other foot.

14. It can give you an edge over your competition

Would you rather buy from an organisation that openly champions diversity and inclusion, or one that doesn’t? Millennials definitely prefer the former.

According to Forbes, millennials prefer to spend their money on companies and brands with “pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards”.

15. It’s good for the economy

Getting people participating in the workforce is great for not only you and your organisation, it’s great for the economy at large.

Here in Australia, one study suggested that “closing the gap between labour market participation rates and unemployment rates for people with and without disabilities by one-third would result in a cumulative $43 billion increase in Australia’s GDP over the next decade in real dollar terms”.

16. It’s good PR

By adding people with intellectual disability to the payroll, it says to the wider community that you’re serious about creating a culture of belonging, warmth and inclusion.

People will take note.

17. It’s easier than you think

‘It seems like it would be a lot of hard work’, is something we hear people say when it comes to employing someone with disability, but it really is easier than you think.

If people need extra assistance in the workplace, there is a good chance that they will have this available to them as part of their NDIS plan. If they don’t need any extra assistance, then, well it should be just as easy as employing someone without disability.

18. They are underrepresented in the job market

The unemployment rate of people with intellectual disability in Australia is staggeringly high at around 20% (for people with no disability, it tends to hover around 5%).

For people with intellectual disability, there are many barriers to getting a job, with one of the main ones being false misconceptions and negative attitudes by employers.

19. One day they might be the ones hiring you

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