Remote work has opened up more opportunities for people with disabilities but as more companies adopt hybrid work schedules or require people to return to the office, disability advocates are worried about losing the gains made during the pandemic.
They say a big concern is people not feeling comfortable telling their employers about their disability.
“Self-disclosure rates are going down, which to me indicates a diminishing of trust that people don't trust their employer,” said Luke Visconti, chairman of the National Organization on Disability.
A new report from the National Organization on Disability shows companies tracking retention of people with disabilities are reporting a 40% turnover rate.
The rate of people disclosing their disability decreased by 11% in 2022. It decreased by 15% the year before that.
“It's not about doing something special for people with disabilities, it's about being nice, and that transfers to everything you're doing. Your customers, your suppliers, your investors,” said Visconti.
Disability advocates say it’s on companies, not workers, to build a relationship that will make someone feel comfortable disclosing their disability.
“In my experience of over 40 years in these companies, there's no downside to this. There's all upside,” said Doug Conant, a board member with the National Organization on Disability. “And these people are dying to contribute. All we need to do is give them the proper opportunity, and make sure the companies are prepared to follow up and deliver that opportunity consistently.”
Advocates say disabled workers looking for a job can look for signs on a company's website that indicate it would be a good environment for someone with a disability.