Every year we hear about how a diverse workforce is critical to the success of an organization.
Sadly, so many organizations miss a huge segment of diverse workers. It’s not because of the lack of awareness. It’s because these groups of people are not a part of organization’s strategic plan.
The reason is that hese diverse groups of people represent a very small segment of the total global population. Add the perceived risk/reward component that scares companies away from putting in the effort.
These highly motivated, capable, and willing people are hungry to work. Most of these intelligent and educated people are classified as “unemployable” in some cases, having an unemployment rate of over 50 percent. rately trying to get into the game…
These are people with disabilities.
I’ll be focusing on a people who are hearing impaired.
There are various levels and types of hearing loss. Understanding this will help you better understand, learn, and be able to influence your organization this talent pool deserves to have the same opportunities as everyone else.
- Did you know those who are deaf or have profound hearing loss have an employment rate between from 48-59 percent? This is a completely untapped labor resource!
- Did you know in 2018 there were over 3 million working age people (21-65) in the United States were deaf or severely hard of hearing?
- Did you know due to barriers to be employed, often people who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing are in physical labor jobs, not because they aren’t capable to work in professional settings, but because they are not given a chance to be considered for them?
- Employers who offer people who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing jobs tend to pay near the same as those who can hear (because they realize they are quite capable).
- Did you know those who have a disability and are given opportunities are more likely to be loyal to the company that gave them the opportunity (better retention) and work harder to prove to their employer they can do the job?
I was born with nerve damage causing profound hearing loss. Without a hearing aid in my left ear, I hear nothing. With my right ear, I have considerable hearing loss. With a hearing aid in my left ear and the little hearing I have in my right ear, I can get by. It is difficult, I probably hear one out of three words when I speak to someone face to face, and fortunately with all the new technology, I can hear well enough to with a headset to do my job as a professional recruiter.
I personally know how difficult it is to overcome barriers. I know how it feels to be overlooked because I asked you to repeat yourself three times or maybe due to my hearing loss I said a word how I heard it, not how it was supposed to be said.
This gives a perception that people who are deaf or with profound hearing loss are just not smart, which can’t be further from the truth. We are smart, good communicators, and if given a chance will do everything we can to shine and be successful.
Seek out diverse candidates who are not like the rest of your workforce.
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Educate yourself on people who are deaf or have profound hearing loss. Figure out how you can make reasonable accommodations (it’s the law) in the workplace to ensure we are able to do our job. Make a plan to seek out, engage, and ultimately offer us opportunities.
I was interviewed this past year on a podcast. The host was asking me questions, and I couldn’t hear him. I shared with him that I was deaf (it is easier to say than “I have profound hearing loss”). He responded by asking: “How can you be a recruiter if you can’t hear?” My response: “I listen.
And for those of us who are deaf or severely hard of hearing, we listen by reading lips, reading body language, facial expressions, and yes if lucky enough like I am we listen to the voice we can hear.
It has gotten easier over the years for people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment. With innovative technologies, new awareness, and willingness the climate is improving, but with almost 50 percent of a segment of people not able to find these opportunities, it just proves there’s still a lot of work to do.
Below are links to organizations to tap into and gain the inside track on enhancing diverse workforce.
- National Association for the Deaf
- ASHA Career Portal for employers
- Rochester Institute for Technology (this was my goal to attend when I was younger)
- Gallaudet University
If you would like to learn more or have questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
One reason many people with hearing loss struggle in life is because the great majority of companies do not offer medical benefits that cover the cost of hearing aids. In my 45 years of wearing hearing aids, only once have I had insurance that covered the cost of hearing aids. Fortunately, I’ve been in a situation where I could afford them. But I know many who struggle in life because the cost. For reference, one hearing aid can cost from $1,500-4,000 and will last on average five to six years.