In a 2021 column for Forbes, Karen Herson, Founder & CEO of Concepts, Inc., a disability and woman-owned communications business, explained that companies that recruit individuals with disabilities will see “improved bottom lines; discover untapped potential; reduce turnover; improve company morale and culture; expand their consumer market; qualify for financial incentives; and meet federal contract requirements.”
It looks like some corporate leaders have listened to her advice. Certainly Inditex, the Spanish company that owns Zara, the world’s leading retail clothing brand, did. On Jan. 25, the company announced plans to double the number of disabled employees the company hires over the next two years.
The announcement, which took place at a meeting between Inditex CEO García Maceiras and the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Gilbert F. Houngbo, was made following Inditex’s endorsement of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, an international group that advocates for workplace disability inclusion.
According to Disability Scoop, “the hiring push will increase inclusion in stores, warehouses, offices and across Inditex’s logistics platforms worldwide with more than 1,500 people with disabilities expected to be hired.”
Inditex’s plan exceeds disability hiring mandates in areas where its businesses are located. In regions where are no hiring mandates, Inditex pledged to make approximately 2% of its workforce people with disabilities.
“Disability inclusion in the workplace is a core component of our commitment to people,” said Maceiras. “Diversity, fairness and inclusion are values we all embrace, values we pursue day-to-day, in order to have an impact within Inditex, as well as all around us: our pledge is to design opportunities for everyone.”
Inditex’s support for ILO and its promise to dramatically increase its hiring of people with disabilities is one of four priority areas related to disability inclusion that were cited in a recent company press release. The areas are: “championing inclusive recruiting and career development; fostering accessible workplaces conducive to ensuring equal opportunities; facilitating an inclusive shopping experience; and raising team awareness about disability.”
Inditex isn’t the only international corporation that has recently stepped up its disability hiring practices. The company joins Microsoft, which trains and supports neurodiverse job candidates; L’Oréal, which founded the #Break the Silence on Disability Program and recently introduced an accessible makeup applicator; Proctor & Gamble, which recently partnered with Gallaudet University and Rochester Institute for Technology to recruit employees and interns who are deaf; Dell, which initiated the Dell Autism Hiring Program; and Uniqlo, which has been recruiting disabled employees since 2001 in Japan. These are just a few of the major corporations to recognize the many benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Here’s hoping that more companies join their ranks!