Can ambition and disabilities go together to give businesses a competitive edge in their workforce? “According to a study by Dupont, employees with disabilities equal or exceed their counterparts with no disabilities in the areas of job performance, attendance, and commitment to safety.”
Ambition tends to get a bad rap in the media, when you hear of ambitious workers you picture workaholic parents who never see their kids or those who balance raising a tiny tribe with running a household and running a global company, precariously and ruthlessly.
While ambition is celebrated in some circles it is also frowned upon in others. “Don’t get too big for your boots,” as the saying goes. While I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard that said about other women (including myself), I’ve never once heard these same boundaries for success and ambition be said to a man.
The truth is that ambition is positive, especially when it’s coupled with wisdom, empathy, and a genuine desire to elevate the workspace and not only the individual. There’s an interesting paradigm shift when you look at the effects an employee with a disability has on a workplace when this employee is also ambitious.
According to AIHW: “48% of working-age (aged 15–64) people with disability are employed, compared with 80% without disability.” Considering how few and far between opportunities for workers with disabilities are, ambition is everything. Ambition doesn’t hold the traditional connotations in this regard, rather, ambitious employees with disabilities are statistically more loyal.
This creates a greater opportunity for growth with the employee as part of the business, which means there’s scope for growth for the business too – the employee is less likely to outgrow the company and leave, employers simply have to start acknowledging that there is a large pool of skilled and capable workers available, and some of them have disabilities.
Employers that recognise the ambition that lies in workers that have disabilities are more likely to benefit from adding these workers to their teams.
Have you ever found yourself repeatedly passed up for an opportunity for no reason that seems to make sense? Have you ever discovered that you weren’t selected for an opportunity because of something insignificant, like your hair colour, your health status, or your beliefs?
This is part of life for people with disabilities, they’re frequently on the receiving end of unconscious bias because people make assumptions about what they’re capable of.
No two people with disabilities are the same, you may meet two people with the same limitations but how they handle them might be completely different, so much so that their abilities differ too. While employers may assume that a role they’re advertising isn’t suitable for someone with a disability, this may be incorrect. In fact, some of the top applicants may have limitations that will have no bearing on their ability to perform their duties and rise within the business.
Research has clearly indicated that employing people from different backgrounds with varied skills and limitations makes a stronger team. That’s not the only benefit to businesses, employers can also utilise the government assistance they’re entitled to when they hire workers with disabilities, including Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the ADA Small Business Tax Credit, the Disabled Access Credit, and the Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction (this may differ between countries).
Businesses also benefit in terms of gaining a morale boost among their teams. “According to an Australian business survey, employees that feel their company is more committed to diversity are generally more satisfied with their jobs.”