Employers are consistently overlooking skilled job applicants who have disabilities, finds new research by the Conference Board of Canada.

Read: Working through disabilities

It says educated and qualified people with disabilities are three times more likely to be unemployed or out of the labour force, compared to those without disabilities. This is the case even though companies generally see a boost in engagement and productivity when they’re open to hiring all types of applicants.

Read: Disability in the workplace

Businesses “need to be able to recruit and retain the talent they need [and they should] include people with disabilities”, says Ruth Wright, director of Human Resources Research. “We need more inclusive and accessible workplaces, [as well as] practices that attract new employees with disabilities.”

Some of the benefits of adopting inclusive hiring practices are the ability to access “large[r] consumer markets, [and improved] customer loyalty and brand image,” says Wright.

The research points out there are 3.8 million people with disabilities in Canada, meaning they currently account for 13.7% of the population—that’s up from 3.6 million people, or 12.4%, in 2001.

For more on how to make workplaces accessible, check out the Conference Board of Canada’s 2012 toolkit for businesses. It aims to help disabled workers, as well as aid companies in complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.


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