Wednesday, March 22, 2023
HomeLatestClimbing the career ladder — with disabilities – Twin Cities

Climbing the career ladder — with disabilities – Twin Cities

Amy Lindgren

Second Sunday Series – Editor’s Note: This is the seventh of 12 columns on work and disability that will appear over 12 months — one on each second Sunday of the month, from September through August. Previous columns discussed higher education decisions, self-advocating, career tips for family caretakers, testing limits as a worker with disabilities, the dilemma of revealing disabilities during job search, and overall concepts of disability in the workplace. 

If you’re an employee with disabilities, is it enough to be working or should you also have the opportunity for promotion and to manage others?

Put like that, the question sounds ridiculous. We know that all employees should be provided the opportunity to work to the top of their abilities, including the chance to supervise and lead others.

The real question is whether this is happening for people with disabilities.

Putting aside the overall unemployment rate, which is double that for those with disabilities than those without, this issue focuses on people who are already in the workforce. And, according to 2022 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s a gap of 1.3 percentage points between workers with disabilities in management roles (11.5%) and those without disabilities (12.8%).

Numbers are tricky, and percentages are especially so. It might seem that 1.3 percentage points is a small margin — until you recall that twice as many people with disabilities are unemployed to begin with. In other words, in raw numbers, rather than percentages, there aren’t very many people with disabilities working in management roles.

There are numerous theories about why this could be. The most hopeful is that the numbers are wrong, due to the possibility that managers who choose not to disclose their disabilities aren’t being counted.

Less hopeful but fixable is the correlation between higher education and management roles. Since these jobs most frequently request degrees and people with disabilities lag in that area, employers might not be seeing their disabled candidates as qualified.

The solution could be employers de-emphasizing degrees as a requirement — as many already have in this tight labor market — and/or more people with disabilities earning degrees.

But what if the gap is due to discrimination? In a 2015 paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research (“The disability employment puzzle: A field experiment on employer hiring behavior”), six authors described what happened when they applied to 6,016 accounting postings with fictional résumés — some with cover letters revealing disabilities.

Result? Fictional applicants with disabilities received 26% fewer responses, regardless of what type of disability was revealed.

Uh-oh. That’s not good. But it’s not hopeless either. It’s understandable why the study was constructed as response-to-postings, and those findings feel definitive. But if we peel back the onion, I’ll note that responding to postings has always been the less-effective job-search process, for all workers.

The numbers vary, but it’s widely accepted that postings represent fewer than half of openings at any given time, and perhaps as little as 10 or 20% of all openings. The other jobs are either not yet posted, or they’re not likely to ever be posted. This means they’ll be filled internally, or through contacts.

If you’re a worker with a disability who wants to manage others, you might need a multi-pronged approach. Here are the steps I’d recommend.

Fill education gaps. If you have an uncompleted degree, or haven’t started a degree yet, consider gaining this credential. You can also explore trainings focused on management, supervision, leadership, employee coaching or other related skill sets.

Fill experience gaps. Have you led teams or committees or projects? Have you supervised others? You can add to your unofficial management experience by seeking these roles, either at work or as a volunteer.

Tell your boss your goals. Remembering that many jobs are filled internally, you need to put yourself in line for that opportunity. Ask your boss, “What do I need to be viable as a candidate?” so you can better focus your efforts.

Keep networking. As you add management training and related experiences, you’ll want to update your resume and LinkedIn profile — and then circulate them so others know you’re ready to do this work.

Don’t disclose when responding to ads. If you do apply online, wait until you’re interviewed or offered a position before disclosing your disability. Given the potential for bias, this appears to be the way to get past the first hurdles so you can present your case for the job.

Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here



Most Popular