By Bobby Sturgell, SVP Washington Operations, Rockwell Collins

Before you hire your next employee, I challenge you to consider someone with a disability. The benefits that a person with a disability brings can be significant. Research studies dating back to 1948 have consistently shown that employees with disabilities have average or better attendance, job performance, and safety records than their non-disabled counterparts, as well as a lower turnover rate.

Reportedly, there are 56 million people with disabilities living in the U.S., and approximately 33 million of them are of working age. The labor force participation rate of this group is 21 percent, which is much lower than the participation rate of those working without disabilities—approximately 70 percent.

We recognize the value that persons with disabilities bring, especially veterans that served our country. Being in the defense industry, the skills that disabled veterans bring are a natural fit. Their battle experience using our technology can produce strong customer affinity.

Our support for persons with disabilities does not stop with orientation though. An active ERG is available for persons with disabilities to assist them in the onboarding process. Not only do members of the group support each other, the group keeps executives up-to-date on best practices to support those with disabilities in their day-to-day work.

We also find great value in working with outside organizations, such as the National Organization on Disability (NOD), for which I serve on the board of directors. The NOD educates government officials, pilots innovative approaches, and collaborates with companies to help them understand the value people with disabilities bring. For Rockwell Collins, the NOD is a welcome whisper in our ear to not forget about these capable job candidates and how to best accommodate them.

People with disabilities come from all walks of life and are the largest minority group. I urge you to seek out these individuals and the unique talents they can bring to your company and create a recruiting pipeline. Trust me when I say you’ll be impressed with the value they bring.