How hiring people with disabilities boosts your bottom line

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” – Michael Corleone, “The Godfather.”

It’s a line from the classic 1972 mob movie, and variations are often said in real-life high-stakes financial transactions. But as it turns out, hiring people with disabilities is both personal and business, and it’s beneficial from both angles.

There is no question that many business owners, executives, and hiring managers will tell you that they want to hire people that best represents the community from which they operate in.  Those very same people will also tell you they need to make a profit. After all that is the whole point of running a business in a capitalistic society. However, we are transitioning into a type of society called social capitalism. It is still capitalism, but it focuses the business on a social problem that needs to be solved. That problem is making sure that the best qualified people with disabilities have the ability to find meaningful work.

Social capitalism is a socially minded form of capitalism where the goal is making social improvements, rather than focusing exclusively on accumulating of capital in the classic capitalist sense. A business that follows the social capitalism philosophy still has profit goals, but it adds the goals of doing something good for society as a whole. Social capitalism combines the free market capitalism which supports private enterprise, alongside with social policies that establish both fair competition within the market and a welfare state. Each business, which is a microcosm of society as a whole, has the right to run their business as they see fit and that includes making decisions based on their morals and values.

This is different from socialism. Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterized by public ownership of the means of production and centralized planning. The two most common are capitalism and socialism. They are very different in how they view who runs the economy. Most economies have ideas from both systems, but tend to be more of one than the other. Capitalism is the economic system based on private or corporate ownership of, production and distribution of goods. Now under social capitalism, for profit companies focus their energies on social policies.

Social capitalism creates a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to start up businesses. Workers with disabilities that are currently employed have demonstrated many benefits to having them on the payroll. They have greater loyalty, a much desired trait that is becoming less common in today’s workforce. It started with millennials. They have shown us that making a long term commitment to one employer is not beneficial. That generation has become known to working for multiple employers mostly as freelancers and contractors and feel that they can make more money doing it.

As businesses show that they are willing to hire more people in this booming economy, they are finding fewer qualified workers willing to take their open positions. This leaves an opportunity to fill these open positions with people who are classified as having a disability. However, retention rates remain relatively high for people who are disabled, and that leads to savings when it comes to rehiring and retraining.

While quantifiable, savings due to increased employee retention does have an element of subjectivity. However, when it comes to tax time, the numbers speak for themselves. There are various tax credits that your business can take advantage of, such as the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). Businesses who are eligible for this tax credit can get back anywhere from $1,200 and up to $9,600 from the IRS.

The Barrier Removal Tax Deduction is another tax credit provides a business up to $15,000 a year in expenses related making the workspace accessible for disable persons.

Employing people with disabilities does not have to be for large companies. Small businesses that generate less than $1 million in revenue in a year and have fewer than 30 on the books employees can be eligible for the disabled access credit. This tax credit can go towards widening of doorways, restriping for more wheelchair accessible parking spaces, or any other accessibility improvements.

There are also tax credits for vocational rehabilitation. Contact the Employment Services team at employU which cultivates business relationships and develops pipelines to meet the need for a supply of qualified candidates.

The businesses that follow the social capitalism philosophy will readily acknowledge the desire to hire people who historically may have encountered more professional barriers. Hiring isn’t a charity, and people with disabilities do not expect it to be when they come to the table with significant skills to offer. They just want the opportunity to earn a living like everyone else. Educating yourself on the benefits of available tax credits makes that possible.

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