Before you hire your next employee, I challenge you to consider someone with a disability.

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.

  • ronnette smith

    November 9, 2013 #1 Author

    People with all types of disabilities and abilities work for Walmart at every level of the company. We were glad to feature a fews associates that work in Walmart Logisitics. www.
    twitter @rvirginiasmith


  • Harold M. Frost, III

    November 11, 2013 #2 Author

    Thank you, Mr. Sturgell, for bringing this up again. It bears repeating, this message of great relevance to the viability and sustainability of our national economy and its fostering of invention and innovation of products and services, this relevant message of hiring and retaining the disabled worker. In fact you urge hiring officials to “trust” you in your claim that they will be impressed with the values that the disabled bring into their workforces. Unfortunately, in the U.S. there is still unjust discrimination against the disabled, especially the worker disabled by an invisible ‘head wound’ such as TBI, PTSD or major depression. These injuries can come not only from combat as evident in many veterans (today is Veteran’s Day, 2013) but also from the crises of just plain life itself as experienced by civilians. A key to breaking through with trust of especially a mentally or cognitively wounded person is UNDERSTANDING by the non-disabled person involved in the hiring process and in subsequent job-performance evaluations, an understanding of his or her own discomfort or stress level in not really knowing how to deal with or relate to a seriously disabled human person. That is, oftentimes immediate contact with a disabled person can challenge us to seek a deeper level of personal conversion of our own beliefs, attitudes and assumptions so that the set of these better accommodates the needs of and respects the aspirations of the disabled person. Accordingly, the stress level of a non-disabled person can then relax to levels fitting within one’s acceptable limits when he or she realizes that disability can strike anyone at anytime – even oneself. A company’s wise CEO or CDO can see this, and thus also see that insisting that those who work under their authority find ways to fit the disabled better into their corporate cultures, works to the overall good of all working together more harmoniously to realize the company’s vision, mission, and earnings and growth targets. From a logical standpoint, this means not only the binary social interaction in the workplace of a non-disabled person with a disabled person (viz., a company interviewer with a disabled job applicant), it can also mean the binary social interaction of one non-disabled person with another non-disabled person (e.g., two members of a project team who are already on board — and under the gun of a looming deadline for completion of their work). Comment is by a retired, disabled veteran of the Viet Nam Era.


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