Barriers to Employment

One in 5 Americans has a disability from what I’ve read in a book and online.

In the RespectAbility internet article one woman wasn’t getting job offers. She disclosed on interviews that she had a disability. After not getting job offers, she stopped disclosing to hiring managers.

Having an invisible disability is no better. Given the choice to “pass for normal” would you want to? A friend pointed out that a lot of peers don’t want to hide in a closet for the rest of their lives like gay people who pretended they were straight.

“This is part of who I am” is the war cry of many people living with disabilities.

The term used is ableism to refer to how outsiders view a disability as a liability that is aberrant.

Unlike a lot of disability rights activists, I’m okay with being called “courageous” and “inspirational” in the face of adversity. This won’t win me any fans.

To people who use wheelchairs, for instance, rolling around is a normal part of their lives.

What do I think?

The interview is a sales pitch for how you can solve an employer’s need with your service. You want to “close the sale” and get a Yes in the form of a job offer.

As a candidate across the desk, you wouldn’t dwell on deficits and drawbacks.

Sadly, this is how having a disability is perceived: as a limitation on what a person can do.

I have a Visionary archetype. As a Visionary, I had the audacity to think a person with a mental illness could hold a job. In spring 2022 my goal is to publish the book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers – Finding and Succeeding at a Job When You Live with a Mental Ilness.

How to risk identifying as a having a disability:

If you’re compelled to be honest you must frame having a disability as giving you the mindset, creative problem-solving skills, and competitive edge to get results for the company. Try quoting the following statistics to make this case:

            A 2018 Accenture study revealed that firms with the best practices in hiring individuals with disabilities saw:

  • Twenty-eight percent higher revenue
  • Double the net income
  • Thirty percent higher profit margins

On average over a four-year period.

I talked about this Accenture study in a prior blog entry.

The fact is that a businessperson might be thinking about the increased health insurance costs that a staff member with a disability could incur.

How to prove you’re a capable and competent worker to a hiring manager in a half-hour interview?

It’s obvious to those of us living with a hardship that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

A lot of us have grit, strength, and resilience in the face of adversity. How could we not perform better than lazy coworkers or rude coworkers or entitled coworkers?

This is obvious to me. On one interview I went on over 11 years ago the HR person asked me: What hardship did you experience that made you who you are today?”

Sorry, talking about having had a breakdown when I was 22 wasn’t the answer I gave. I talked about what it was like when I was 22 and my grandfather was in a coma hooked up to a respirator in the ICU.

Having a mental health issue or diagnosis is [intractably] not seen as a selling point.

Not that any illness should be more acceptable than another. Every illness should be seen as an ordinary part of the life of a person living with a disability.

Folks: I don’t live in hiding. Google me and the truth is out there: in my memoir Left of the Dial, in my blogs, and on my website.

In the coming blog entry, I’m going to review the book Disability Visibility. Twenty-first century voices talking about living with a disability.

Diversity Equity and No Inclusion

In this and coming blog entries I’m going to talk about disability and barriers to employment.

First up in here I’ll talk about my experience having a disability and working at a job.

I say: Good Luck advocating for yourself and others once you’re hired. My story is a tale of Diversity Equity and No Inclusion.

In June I filled out the online application to join the DEI Council. On the form I identified as person living with a disability. My platform I advanced had this 3-part agenda:

Giving employees hardship pay for working during the pandemic.

Creating a one-month paid time off option for staff who had been employed for 15 years.

Starting an internship program for teens and young adults with disabilities.

Readers, I was rejected for admission to the DEI Council. Was it possible that because my goal of economic reparations would benefit every staff person that the members of the first DEI Council rejected me out of hand?

Sadly, the current DEI Council didn’t connect the dots that paid time off would benefit BIPOC staff who experienced microaggressions on the job.

I wondered if a person with a disability was chosen for the second DEI Council.

According to a RespectAbility internet article corporate leaders don’t think about disability when forming policies on diversity. Race, gender, and sexual orientation/identity are examined.

Per RespectAbility: “Disability needs to be a part of every conversation that the business community has about diversity and inclusion.”

Five months later I still can’t get over the fact that the current DEI Council failed to see as I did that economic reparations should be part of the solution.

It was like they rejected me because my platform didn’t focus only on BIPOC individuals.

In the next blog entry in this carnival I will talk about the reality of barriers to employment when you have a disability.