According to the National Council of Nonprofits, nonprofits nationwide are reporting difficulty recruiting and retaining staff. In response to a fall 2021 survey, approximately 26% of nonprofits reported position vacancies of 20% to 29%, and another 16% reported vacancies of more than 30%. When nonprofits struggle with hiring, there is a ripple effect in the community. If nonprofit organizations cannot staff their programs, that means necessary community services like mental health care, workforce development and access to food support become more limited – or even nonexistent.

So how do we address this workforce drought, and how do we expand our hiring pool?

When it comes to hiring practices and expanding your hiring pool, one of the first questions your organization should be asking is, “How inclusive are our hiring practices?” Repeatedly, research has shown that motivational levels of employees with disabilities are not just comparable, but significantly higher than average, which inevitably translates into higher levels of efficiency and productivity. According to the Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journalemployees with disabilities work harder, are more productive, are more loyal and show lower absenteeism rates.

And yet, according to a 2022 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities ages 16 to 64 is still twice as high as it is for people without disabilities. So what can we, as employers and nonprofit leaders, do to correct this inequity of opportunity? Here are three practices you can integrate into your organization to increase inclusion today.

  1. Find opportunities to educate your staff.
  2. Learn from industry peers.
  3. Consider establishing an employee resource group.

At the end of the day, companies are more likely to succeed when they’re more inclusive. Yet, so many employers are hesitant to consider candidates of varying abilities.

Having encountered so many difficulties securing a job, employees with disabilities are often more motivated to perform above what is expected, leading to better work quality, greater loyalty and more consistent performance. We must shift our mindsets and hiring practices to find strength in diversity so that we can optimize the success of our businesses, employees and local economies.

Read the full article about nonprofit inclusion in hiring by Nicole Suydam at Forbes.