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EARN’s Small Business Toolkit: Inclusive Strategies for Meeting Workforce Needs

February 9, 2024
Source: Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

Workforce shortages can jeopardize the success of any business, but they can be especially challenging for small businesses. When small businesses proactively recruit and hire people with disabilities, they can overcome many of these challenges. But the benefits of being a disability-inclusive employer go beyond filling open positions. Research shows doing so also helps businesses gain a competitive edge through expanded business reach, reduced turnover and insight into a large and growing customer base.

To help small businesses build an inclusive talent pipeline to meet their workforce needs, the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) recently developed the Small Business Toolkit. This new resource will help small business owners and hiring managers learn how to effectively recruit and hire people with disabilities and further their long-term career growth.

Specifically, the Small Business Toolkit offers practical strategies for:

  • Creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace;
  • Providing reasonable accommodations;
  • Recruiting job seekers with disabilities;
  • Hiring people with disabilities;
  • Retaining workers with disabilities; and
  • Advancing talented employees with disabilities.

Additional topics addressed include digital accessibility, employee benefits, special considerations for federal contractors and subcontractors, relevant laws and regulations, workplace mental health, neurodiversity and more.

Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy. They are also often a key part of the social fabric of their communities. By fostering an inclusive culture and building a workforce reflective of all customers, small businesses can have a big impact—both within and outside their own organizations. The Small Business Toolkit provides a step-by-step path to success.

EARN’s Small Business Toolkit was developed in collaboration with the U.S Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, the ODEP-funded Job Accommodation Network, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

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