Me: “Hello, I would like to learn more about the process of hiring someone with a disability.”
Advocate: “Okay, what do you mean by that?”
“Where do I find them and how can I let them know that I am hiring? I
want to make sure that my hiring practices are fair and equal.
How do I properly train someone with a disability?
there any tax benefits that businesses can take advantage of when
hiring someone with a disability? Can I pay a person with a disability
less than minimum wage if they are very slow?
What are some labor laws and regulations that I need to be aware of?”
– Silence –
Understandably; how would you answer those discriminating questions?
To illustrate the offensiveness, read the questions again in a different context:
I would like to know how to hire an old person. Where do I find old
people? What’s the best way to train them? Can I pay them less than
minimum wage? Would I get tax benefits? Are there any laws or special
paperwork I need to fill out?”
This puts into perspective the ridiculous questions I asked this morning about employing people with disabilities.
all agree that diversity is a competitive advantage and that we cannot
discriminate based on age, disability, national origin, pregnancy, race,
color, religion or gender. We just don’t always live by it.
For progress to occur, we have to continue asking questions and not be afraid of demonstrating how ignorant we are.
I felt like an idiot this morning when I realized how offensive and uninformed my
questions were. But if I hadn’t asked
them, I still wouldn’t know the answers.
What is worse:
Offending someone with a question or remaining ignorant and unaware of
your prejudices and stereotypes (for the rest of your life)?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
(If someone asks you
an ignorant question and you feel offended by it, remind yourself: The
person asking simply lacks knowledge, education or awareness, and he or
she would like to learn from you.)
Dialogue is good.
Now back to the awkward question how managers can hire someone with a disability and what I have learned today:
Here is what you can say when you contact your local Vocational Rehab Office:
I have a job opening for an hourly/part-time (full-time) worker at my
store/business. Do you know anyone who is looking for employment? Maybe
you can help me find someone who would be a great fit.”
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