A study has revealed what will likely come as a surprise to no one: employers have discriminatory attitudes towards disabled people.
Jobs For Disabled People: Good Policy
Hiring practices have been studied for ages and every now and then we find out about some new or interesting trend that might make for good policy. However, researches have this time revealed something that no one should replicate.
Bias in hiring spans across multiple categories. HR folk have been scrutinized for discriminating based on gender, race, sexual orientation – and now disabilities.
However, while many people find it easy to voice their biases and be ‘politically incorrect’, hardly anyone would opt to do so when it comes to the disabled. So how did the researchers get their hands on the data needed to make these assertions? They played it smart.
No Jobs For Disabled People: Study
These researchers actually sent out resumes and cover letters to potential employers instead of sending them a questionnaire or survey. The documents sent forth were identical except for one key detail: some of the folks were disabled. The experiment isn’t anything new. It has been previously conducted with two sets of resumes, one with white sounding names and the other with black sounding names. The studies showed black folk were less likely to get called back for an interview even when their resume had the right kind of stuff on it.
Now that same technique has been used to see if disabled people get by easy or if they have bigger problems to face. Unfortunately, it was found that disabled people are on the wrong side of the coin.
A study, conducted for the National Bureau of Economic Research, delved into the issue. Resumes were constructed, one for a candidate that had six years of experience and one for another who had been out of college for just a year.
For each resume the team devised three different cover letters. One had no disability or issue to report, another had a disclosed spinal condition, and the third disclosed that they had Asperger’s syndrome.
Unsurprisingly, the cover letters that spoke of a disability had a 26% smaller likelihood of getting a follow-up call from the firm they had applied to. Having the six year experience or the know how seemed irrelevant. Six years should have been more than enough time in the field to be considered seriously for the job, but that’s not how things worked. These people had a 34% lower likelihood of getting a call back.
Suitable jobs for disabled people: The only place where there was no significant difference found was with the resumes that belong to candidates that had been out of college for about a year. In that case, it didn’t matter whether someone had disabilities.
The resumes that belonged to people with spinal cord issues and Asperger’s syndrome had the same kind of response. This showed a systematic bias against disabled people, rather than a specific problem that someone might have.
However, before you lose all hope also know that the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act works. The study also showed that any company that had 15 or more staff members had a smaller likelihood of discriminating against people with physical or mental disabilities.