More than a quarter (26 percent) of working age people in the U.S. have a disability — yet only 17.9 percent of disabled people are in employment, according to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s despite the fact that organizations considered “disability champions” have been found to have double the net income and 30 percent higher profit margins when compared with other companies. (Source: “Getting to Equal 2018: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” Accenture)

The insurance industry has a greater need than most to understand the needs of disabled people as the industry turns its attention to disability-related insurance. Some years ago, the Social Security Administration found that 25 percent of people could expect to miss at least one year of work due to disability before retirement age. And this is likely to be even more relevant in the wake of COVID-19 and its effects on workers across the globe.

One of the best ways to truly understand the growing needs of disabled people is to ensure that the insurance industry represents and includes disabled people in its employee population. Here are some practical ways organizations can take practical steps towards recruiting more disabled people:

  1. Be Data Driven

As with any business initiative, your drive to recruit disabled people should be data driven. This means starting by collecting data from the very first contact with potential candidates, as well as if they choose to apply for your roles. This will provide you with vital information on how to improve the accessibility and inclusion of your recruitment process. It will enable you to understand at what point disabled people are disengaging with your recruitment process, or being turned away—on your candidate site, or after application, interview, or offer. This will enable you to create a tailored plan to address your specific challenges in attracting and recruiting disabled candidates.

  1. Advertise Inclusively—in the Right Places

Candidates will take up to 76.7 seconds (if you’re lucky) deciding if your position is right for them, according a survey by employment site The Ladders. And they can be very quickly put off by elements such as structure, ableist requirements, and language. So, it’s vital that all your job descriptions have a clear inclusion statement that includes references to adjustments, are free of ableist language such as “mobile,” “crazy,” or “visionary'”– and truly consider requirements that may be considered ableist, such as “thrives in a busy environment.” Your job postings also need to be in the right place to attract disabled candidates. That means using job platforms that have clear accessibility standards and a proven track record of attracting disabled candidates. If you are tied to job platforms that do not meet these requirements, consider additional platforms such as disability-specific recruitment agencies and platforms.

  1. Be Proactive in Your Approach to Making Adjustments

Ensure not only that your job platforms are fully accessible and that you have an inclusion statement on your job postings, but also that you ask every candidate if they require adjustments for the recruitment process. You cannot ask about their disability or impairment, or the adaptions they would require for the role, but you can ask up front how you can enable them to complete your recruitment process. This starts to build trust that you really care about disability inclusion from the outset—and listening and believing, rather than asking for evidence of a disability, will help embed this trust.

  1. Showcase Your Disability Inclusion

As with all candidates, disabled candidates do their research, but may be looking for different things. It’s therefore important to showcase your disability inclusion externally by promoting your disability-relevant policies and practices, such as disability leave or occupational health options, as well as using storytelling to showcase the disability-inclusive experience of your current employees—even better if they are senior leaders who are willing to share their stories.

  1. Educate Your Managers

One of the main reasons that a disabled candidate isn’t hired is pessimistic views and biases on the part of the employer—not the candidate’s ability to do the job. These biased beliefs often come from a place of benevolence—for example, believing that a disabled candidate may be at physical or emotional risk if offered the job. So, it’s vital that all your managers receive training in disability inclusion and accessibility. But it’s also important that your recruitment teams and hiring managers have the support they need to implement adjustments when requested. Hiring managers can’t be expected to be disability experts, but they should know their accessibility responsibilities—and where to get the right information when they need it. For example, if a candidate has requested a sign language interpreter for an interview, they should have access to learning tools that help them understand the best way to communicate with someone who uses a sign language interpreter.

Throughout all these actions must run a thread of authenticity—candidates must really see that you care and commit to disability inclusion. True disability inclusion is not really about processes or checklists, but about creating a culture of belief, accepting, and belonging.