According to Pew Research Center, more than 150 million people are part of the American workforce. For most of us, working is a huge part of our daily lives. It becomes our routine and, largely, our source of stability and financial wellbeing.

But, for the majority of Americans, working isn’t just about earning a paycheck. Having a job contributes substantially to our sense of self-worth. Regardless of how much we may prefer to stay at home relaxing (who doesn’t!?) most of us need our jobs to help us feel like contributing members of society. Employment makes us feel that, no matter how insignificant it may seem, our contribution is, in some way, making a difference. It is through our jobs that we satisfy the fundamental need to be needed. Yes, relationships play a large role in that — it’s so important to feel respected and appreciated at home. But humans naturally have not just a desire, but a need to feel needed by society as a whole. We yearn to have our own unique place in the delicate framework of our collective community and, in a large way, that need is fulfilled by having meaningful employment.

Unfortunately, employment doesn’t come easily for a lot of people, especially those with disabilities. It’s no secret that there is a great deal of stigma surrounding disability. Regardless of the disability one has, if it’s visible, it tends to be the first thing people see and the characteristic that is most profoundly considered. Employers often look at people with disabilities and instantly assume they cannot perform the tasks required of them. Instead of giving the benefit of the doubt, employers, as is the case for many people, tend to simply overlook job candidates with disabilities.

As an organization that exists in large part to help faciliate the acquisition of jobs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, we can say the following with confidence: Those employers are missing out. By eliminating a large portion of the job seeker pool from contention based upon their disabilities, these employers are losing the opportunity not just to gain great employees, but to learn more and diversify their workplaces. Each person has unique abilities to offer employers and, if they have the skills to do the job at hand, or the capability to learn said skills, they should be given due consideration, regardless of their disability.

Employers stand to gain so much by diversifying their workplaces. By employing people of all abilities, they are giving their company the chance to grow in so many ways. Expanding to include all ability levels means giving all of your employees the chance to think in different ways, see the world through a more universal lense, and welcome the ideas of a wider scope of people.

So, if you or someone you know is hiring, don’t forget to consider all applicants. At CLI, we’re happy to connect you with passionate, capable individuals who are ready and willing to step into a new job. And, if you’re interested in learning more about the employment services we offer to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities here in Frederick, just give us a call or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to chat.