The Importance of Empowering Employees With Disabilities

Heather Bussing, January 2020

The Importance of Empowering Employees With Disabilities

At Key, we believe in the importance of empowering employees and have made it a priority to foster the development and growth of all team members. Yet in the United States, people with disabilities will still experience severe hurdles in employment. According to the Institute on Disability, in 2017, people with disabilities were nearly 50 percent less likely to be employed than people without disabilities.

Accenture estimates that there's an untapped talent pool of more than 10.7 million people with disabilities who can bring value and skills to companies open to hiring them. Inclusive organizations understand the benefits and importance of drawing talent from this population.

The Benefits of Hiring and Working With Disabled Employees

At Key, we know that people with disabilities contribute valuable skillsets and make great employees and colleagues. And data backs up our experiences: Workplace Initiative, in their guide on disability and inclusion, reports that employees with disabilities are just as or more productive, and have much lower turnover and stronger safety records, than people without disabilities.

Organizations that prioritize hiring employees with disabilities also see increased innovation; this is because people with disabilities need to be creative to navigate a world designed for those without disabilities.

Approaches to Hiring People With Disabilities

Hiring an employee with a disability is like hiring anyone else; it's about matching the right person to the right job. Sometimes it requires adjusting or modifying a process, procedure, the job or the work environment to enable the individual to perform the essential functions of the role. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include acquiring or modifying equipment or training materials, adjusting a work schedule or work location, or providing assistive technology. Welcoming employees with disabilities mean working on an individual basis through Key's interactive job accommodations process to figure out how to accommodate each individual's specific needs in a way that is reasonable and assists the individual in meeting the essential functions of their role.

Often, making accommodations to a workspace, tools, processes, or policies results in a work environment that's more comfortable and productive for all employees.

Key's Commitment to Employees With Disabilities

Employing and engaging people with disabilities is an important part of Key's approach to diversity and inclusion, and we're proud that leaders in disability advocacy have recognized our work. Key has received Leading Disability Employer awards from the National Organization on Disability for the past three years. Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential, an Ohio nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, has also recognized Key for its outstanding commitment to welcoming employees with disabilities.

Key recognizes the importance of empowering employees of all abilities. We train management and staff on skills and tools to foster an inclusive workplace. We've also established the Champions for People with Disabilities Key Business Impact and Networking Group (CPD KBING). The mission of the CPD KBING employee resource group is to foster and enhance professional development, business development, recruitment and retention of people with disabilities and caregivers, and create an inclusive environment for employees and clients with disabilities or those caring for persons with disabilities.

Inclusion at Key means seeing the value of different abilities and appreciating our employees for who they are. KeyBank Chief Risk Officer and Executive Sponsor of the Champions for People with Disabilities Mark Midkiff explains, "It's not just about what we do, but how we do it. Our focus on disability inclusion is an important part of how we encourage everyone to bring their authentic selves to Key."

Key is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer.