Why You Should Hire Talent from the Differently-Abled Pool and Not Just to Check Off a Box
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
The business of ethical hiring practices has arose in the last decade to account for diversity by putting people into boxes and arranging them on a job application form in order of appearance, question by question, in terms of how "different" they are from historical standards in society. What does this mean in terms of real philosophical value?
When answering these questions, every company explains that they're using this information to hire a diverse pool of talent, but what do we really know about that? Who is making these decisions and what are they basing their criteria off of? It still doesn't seem to make sense as a proper tool for ethics. Shouldn't the best candidate for the job receive it based on applicable skills and qualities, despite what their other, irrelevant attributes are?
Let's break down these boxes and start thinking about what we check off and how it can be relevant. To give, say, myself a job for being a woman instead of someone else, say, for identifying as male - when they are more skilled and qualified than I - would be a mistake and prejudice against both of our genders. Most of us would like to be hired for a job because we are the best candidate with the particular skill set we offer and bring to the table, not because someone thought what gender we are makes a difference.
Therefore, we want to be hired for what abilities we have that are different from others. Differently abled is also another way of phrasing someone who is disabled. Whether there is a bias existing in one group or another, the same equal opportunity applies to all communities whether it be based on disability, gender, sexual orientation, or otherwise.
However, what if the role being applied for is generally male-dominant, and being female is not an "automatic" win for the job for no reason? What if being female can offer a new eye and take on things where it is helpful as opposed to harmful? So long as gender inequalities are not being combatted to place a less overall qualified person on the job, particularly with regards to safety and higher value of great number of human lives, it seems okay to favour gender-inequality.
When viewed like this, it almost appears to be the same example of gender bias rewritten as simply the opposite of historical precedence. The problem is, it's still a response based off of discrimination like it was in the past, only in the opposing form.
What does this mean for society and how can we actually get around how to hire the right help without bias and discrimination? If we can start attaching value to what makes people different as opposed to thinking of the word as having negative connotations, we will suddenly understand the answer to this question.
In other words, our old world view still purveys a lot of casted doubt on anyone that's diverse based on previously set-out societal standards of the past, and that's only natural. It's time we start looking at these check boxes as opportunities for diverse talent and skill sets as opposed to just quotas to fill. We must think positively, successfully, and aspirationally, instead of negatively and already setting ourselves up for failure.
Every member of a team in a company comes together to bring the best value that they can to their customers. If we start looking at members of the disabled community such as myself for being differently abled, we remove the negative connotation of "dis" from the word and we can start seeing more value in this person's skills.
Like the example of gender bias, many biases exist in business and especially in the hiring process. Once someone is on contract, they're doing work for the company, and the best time to use bias is before that happens. Aside from gender, we have other bias and inequalities that arise from negative views associated with certain groups of people because of the past.
If one person has certain strengths, there are opportunities to use that for the company's benefit. We can rewrite our futures by outlining the silver, or looking at what's positive and not negative. Similarly, if someone else was weak in an area, it's offsetting the balance of threat to the business from external entry. But if we continue to look at weaknesses as threats as opposed to opportunities, we will continue to fail seeing the benefits that every person has to offer in and of their own self right living outside of the box.
And if we have to use the box because it's convenient for organization, filing, and storage, then can we at least start asking the right questions and interviewing candidates with questions regarding their skill set diversity, instead of only measuring them by their traditional diversity tropes?
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