By Cassandra D. Caldwell, PhD

FICTION: Employees with disabilities can’t compete with others.
FACT: 90% of people with disabilities rank average or above average on job performance reviews.
FICTION: Accommodating people with disabilities is expensive.
FACT: 90% of organizations report no change to insurance costs after hiring people with disabilities.

Separating fact from fiction will open the doors of opportunity for people with disabilities, a group which faces an unemployment rate nearly double that of people without disabilities. The solution starts with education. Why recruit, retain, and promote people with disabilities? This builds a loyal, highly productive, and engaged team. Building this team is accomplished by tapping the numerous workforce programs and diversity job boards that fill vacancies with people with disabilities, aging workers, and wounded warriors. This should be done now, because closing the gap between the haves and have-nots will strengthen our economy. The responsibility to make a change rests squarely on the shoulders of organizational leaders.

As CEO of the International Society of Diversity & Inclusion Professionals, the first global association for D&I spanning all industries, it’s my mission to educate others about the benefits of including people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. That’s why I asked John Robinson—founder of an organization that specializes in mentoring people with disabilities and a nonprofit dedicated to educating leaders about their inclusion—to speak at our recent conference in Puerto Rico. Before a packed audience of diversity change agents, John, born a congenital amputee, shared the personal obstacles he has overcome, while inspiring and showing them how to help people with disabilities more fully participate in society. Now it’s your turn. Go for it!