SOURCE: The Bobby Dodd Institute

October 03, 2007 16:07 ET

Study Finds Unemployment at Crisis Point for Individuals With Disabilities

Bobby Dodd Institute Provides Solution Through Disability 101 Training During National Disability Awareness Month in October

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - October 3, 2007) - New research from the Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI) reveals that nearly half of Atlanta workers (47 percent) believe unemployment among people with physical and mental disabilities has reached a crisis point. And for good reason: people with disabilities represent America's largest minority group, but continue to suffer a 65 percent rate of unemployment.

For the past 18 years, BDI has committed itself to empowering individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to secure economic self-sufficiency, independence and integration into society. To address the issue and dispel myths surrounding working with and hiring individuals with disabilities, BDI is launching a diversity training drive. The Atlanta-based nonprofit is offering companies free educational resources and advice in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October.

When asked to describe the groups of people that the term "equal opportunity" pertains to, only 2 percent of respondents stated "workers with disabilities." While businesses and workers alike continue to overlook this labor pool, BDI is determined to raise awareness and remind employers that people with disabilities are ready, willing and able to work.

"Atlanta business leaders continually embrace the call to create a diverse workforce; however, people with disabilities are consistently left out of the employment mix," said Wayne McMillan, president and CEO of BDI. "Bobby Dodd Institute's goal is to create a vibrant and truly diverse Atlanta workforce by partnering with local companies to provide diversity training and to identify suitable employment opportunities."

KEY FINDINGS:

Top Perceived Barriers to Hiring People with Disabilities

Through its work, BDI hopes to address common employment myths leading to a greater understanding of the value of hiring workers with disabilities. According to Atlanta's workforce, the following barriers top the list of reasons why employers are reluctant to hire individuals from this group:

--  Respondents identify lack of knowledge about accommodating people with
    disabilities (54 percent) and lack of knowledge about people with
    disabilities in general (52 percent) as the primary deterrent to
    hiring and employment.
    - BDI offers free diversity training to ensure that employees and
      employers experience a smooth transition during the hiring and
      employment process. Furthermore, diversity awareness programs are
      beneficial to a variety of minority groups increasing team
      effectiveness and cohesiveness.

--  Respondents refer to concerns over cost for workplace adjustments and
    accommodations (46 percent) when explaining the lack of employment
    among individuals with disabilities.
    - According to the Department of Labor, the average cost of a
      workplace accommodation for an individual with a disability is less
      than $500. With very little investment, companies can provide
      meaningful employment opportunities for disabled workers. BDI
      eliminates guesswork by assisting employers with finding
      cost-effective accommodations to ensure the best employer-employee
      fit.

    - The bottom line benefits of employing workers with disabilities far
      outweigh initial accommodation costs. As the nation's largest
      minority group, the disability community has an estimated $1
      trillion in aggregate consumer spending power. And this group is
      growing. Further, new research from BDI shows that 90 percent of
      Atlanta workers would be loyal to a business that has a track record
      of hiring individuals with disabilities.

--  Respondents feel disabled persons aren't hired more often because they
    cannot adequately perform required work duties (27 percent).
    - Adequate or better performance of job duties correlates to long-term
      job retention. A national survey by DuPont shows that disabled
      workers have a higher retention rate than their nondisabled peers.
      This finding holds true with BDI-placed individuals as well, who
      boast a 82 percent retention rate in the Atlanta market.

Diversity Training Makes a Difference

New BDI survey results show that almost six out of 10 (56 percent) of Atlanta workers have never participated in diversity training at their companies. During October, BDI is launching an educational resource center housed on its central Web site -- www.bobbydodd.org -- offering free online workshops to businesses across the country. The Disability 101 training will encourage business leaders to take necessary steps on a week-by-week basis: Lesson 1: Acknowledge the Diversity Challenge, Lesson 2: Bridge the Gap and Lesson 3: Make the Workplace and Workspace Inclusive.

"People with disabilities are ready, willing and able to contribute to the labor market in Atlanta and beyond," said McMillan. "Businesses who make changes now to increase diversity and take advantage of this labor pool will not only show strong corporate citizenry for the 1.5 million Georgians living with disabilities, but also acquire qualified workers who benefit the bottom line."

To learn more about employing people with disabilities and view videos of individuals who have benefited from BDI's programs, visit www.bobbydodd.org.

About the Research Study

Two hundred fifty workers in the Atlanta area from small to large companies, and rural, suburban and urban areas, completed detailed phone interviews concerning the issue of working with and employing individuals with disabilities. Survey respondents were asked for their feedback on issues including special hiring/training practices, perceived unemployment rate, employer barriers and costs associated with making workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

About Bobby Dodd Institute

The Bobby Dodd Institute is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to maximize their potential by securing economic self-sufficiency, independence and integration into society. For the past 18 years, BDI has provided vocational evaluation, training, job placement and case management to persons with disabilities. BDI also operates several affirmative businesses: assembly and packing operation, toner cartridge division and switchboard operations, mail centers, cleaning and ground maintenance division. Founded in honor of Coach Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech, a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities, BDI annually offers career services and employment opportunities to more than 460 clients in the Atlanta area. To find out more about career services, employment programs and ways you can support BDI, visit www.bobbydodd.org.

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Megan Rutter
    Bobby Dodd Institute
    678-365-0072

    Melanie Nellis
    Brand Resources Group
    678-996-2009