write inclusive job descriptions for folks with disabilities — Quartz

This story is part of How We’ll Win in 2019, a year-long study of gender equality in the workplace. Read more stories here.

The next time you come across a job advertisement, read the description carefully. See requirements like “good manual dexterity”, “ability to walk, sit and stand for long periods of time”, “ability to lift up to 20 pounds” or “own a vehicle”, even for seemingly apparent jobs these would Not require skills? You could shake off your feeling of slight confusion and apply anyway. Now imagine that you are a job seeker with a disability – and you see these requirements in every job you want to apply for.

A job posting for an administrative assistant at the Learning Center for the Deaf describes the role of “responsible for running the department planning software” and “maintaining the flow of documents and other information in and out of the program.” It is then stated that candidates must be able to “physically perform” tasks including “lifting up to 25 pounds frequently, stooping, reaching above shoulder height, climbing stairs, pulling, typing, standing or sitting for long periods of time”. The same publication also includes an Equal Opportunities Declaration which explicitly states the obligation to recruit regardless of race, religion, gender, age … and disability. How could an employee be accommodated who cannot meet these physical requirements? The applicant must ask himself these kinds of answers.

There are no statistics on how many job descriptions seem to disqualify disabled people as candidates based on the language used in them, but it is clear that it is a great deal. When you search for the keyword “£ 25” for jobs in Boston on Indeed.com, you returned 1,581 results. Some of these jobs, such as Jobs such as waiters may require the ability to lift and move items but other jobs that come up in search – such as marketing and communication – may not.

Employers can take these physical requirements from a template. They may also not think about what is considered an actual, essential function of the job, and they may not think about what aspects of the job they can take on for an employee with a disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to discriminate against U.S. job seekers with disabilities and requires employers to take reasonable precautions, including changing equipment, to help disabled workers perform essential duties. However, not all employers do this. A recent job advertisement for an Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Bradley University states that candidates must “have access to non-ADA-compliant buildings” to find a position that involves hiring directly with historically underrepresented student groups collaborates on campus. The ad does not indicate that the employer is offering additional accommodation. Even employers who may be open to accommodation for the right candidate sometimes use language that may put the right candidate off.

“I’ve seen some applications with tricky questions such as: B. ‘Do you need shelter or assistive technology to perform these tasks? “Sometimes people don’t apply if the answer is yes,” says Sharon Rosenblatt, an accessibility technology specialist in New Haven, Connecticut. “It is illegal to ask directly if an applicant has a disability, but these questions seem daunting, even if only innocuous.”

Who actually writes these job advertisements?

Job descriptions are often written by employees in the HR department or, in smaller companies, by the HR manager. There are no federal laws that require companies to have written job descriptions, which means there is also no guidance on what should or shouldn’t be included in one. Organizations often use the boilerplate language to create descriptions in job postings, even when they reference basic physical elements that may not be required to get the job done.

If employers do not want to discourage disabled people from applying and instead want to promote a diverse workplace that is accessible to all, people who write job descriptions need to actively consider who might read those job openings.

Access to a car is not required for most jobs unless they involve driving, as might be the case for a delivery driver, on-site event coordinator, or an Uber driver. However, a search for “vehicle” in Boston jobs on Indeed will find bookings for administrative assistants, communications managers, and public relations and online marketing professionals. Many people with disabilities may not drive or own a car. The question of whether they have reliable transportation to and from work is a much fairer question. If the physical “requirements” of a job are not actual requirements – for example, if an organization hires an advertising manager but does not need that person to attend trade show conferences – the job description should state that accommodation can do so.

Rosenblatt recommends companies promote accommodation such as flexible teleworking policies to encourage disabled applicants.

If a job advertisement includes information about access, accommodation and flexibility, it can be a signal to applicants that the job values ​​disabled applicants. This is the first step in trusting that they value their disabled employees too.

This story is part of How We’ll Win in 2019, a year-long study of gender equality in the workplace. Read more stories here.

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