Employers often wonder about how best to deal with employees with disabilities. Even in this enlightened, post-ADAAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008) society, there are still employers that are afraid to hire applicants or worry about keeping employees who they learn have some type of physical or mental impairment that constitutes a disability.
However, according to an article published on Diversityinc.com, How Recruiting People With Disabilities Solved Toyota’s Costly Problem, when Toyota Motor North America needed to add a productionprocess that would require additional employees to implement, the company decided to utilize its employees with known developmental disabilities to handle the project. Toyota spent nearly two years developing a work environment in which these employees could safely and effectively work on its assembly lines, but this effort resulted in an increase in employee involvement and awareness of people with disabilities, more efficiency within its production process, and improved public and community relations.
Not every company can invest the time, money, and resources to take such major measures to specifically seek out and employ disabled individuals. However, we can all benefit by and learn from Toyota’s example. The next time you encounter a disabled applicant or employee, remember your legal obligations under the ADAAA and make sure that you (or others) aren’t making any employment decisions based on the person’s disability. Focus on what the person can do (not what they cannot do) and think about steps that could be taken to enable them to do the job and do it well. Further, think about the example set by Toyota and consider what you can do to increase the number of disabled employees in your organization and set up situations so that they can excel and succeed as employees. Like Toyota, you may find some unexpected and wonderfully profitable results.