Here are nine reasons why disability inclusion benefits not just workplaces but the overall economy as well.
Much as the world sings paeans of praise about how disability inclusion has become an integral part of workplace culture, concerns around return on investment remain a major deterrence for many organizations not to hire autistic, neurodivergent and disabled people at scale. These concerns stem from ignorance at best and ableism at worst. In this article, I am going to present nine compelling reasons why disability inclusion benefits not just workplaces but also the overall economy of a community or country in several ways.
1. Increased productivity and decreased support costs
Ever wondered why a workplace that is homogenous in terms of a lack of diversity seems to hit a productivity plateau every so often? Do people lack the motivation to push forward, or does the apparent sameness of thoughts and approaches breed an invisible culture of doing just enough to not get fired?
Autistic, neurodivergent and disabled people can be the missing piece in the productivity puzzle. They often bring unique talents, strengths and perspectives to the workplace, leading to increased productivity, better problem-solving and innovation.
In addition, employing autistic, neurodivergent and disabled people helps them become financially independent, which, in turn, decreases their dependence on government allowances while also lowering the cost of various community support services such as adult care, according to a PubMed Central® report.
2. GDP growth
A study by Accenture, Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities revealed that closing the employment gap between people with disabilities and people without disabilities could help boost the GDP of the U.S. economy by up to $25 billion (about $77 per person in the US).
Therefore, it is a no-brainer that promoting disability-inclusive hiring practices and reducing employment gaps can have a positive impact on the overall economy of a country.
3. Increased consumer spending
As I mentioned earlier, autistic, neurodivergent and disabled people bring innovation and creativity to the workplace. With innovation comes better and more intuitive products and services that cater to a wider range of consumers, leading to increased consumer spending within a given marketplace. It is also possible to create new revenue streams if those products and services are specifically designed for consumers from niche markets such as hearing and visual aids, weight loss supplements, telehealth services for rural populations, gaming, etc.
Additionally, when neurodivergent or disabled people are employed, they often have more disposable income to spend on goods and services. This increased spending capacity can help revitalize the economy.