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Big Tent Jobs

24100 Southfield Road, Suite 320H
Southfield, Michigan 48075

Adam Kaplan

Why seek disabled candidates when able-bodied citizens are clamoring for work? Because of their unique qualifications and skills, Kaplan argues. There are 30 million employable Americans with disabilities — about one-fifth of the potential work force — with backgrounds in finance, information technology, engineering and other desirable fields.

Why should business want to hire the “specially abled?”
There’s no good business case for keeping 20 percent of the market out of your recruitment efforts. The American Association of People with Disabilities, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group released a statement in August noting the unemployment rate for people with disabilities stands at 16.8 percent, a .4 percent increase over the same period last year.

I believe that statistic masks a much higher rate, probably closer to 70 percent, when you factor in those who are underemployed or have given up looking for work.

How can your company help employers find qualified candidates with disabilities?
Typically, what you see in the marketplace is a number of service agencies that support assisted employment, but there’s very little support and active recruiting for talented and college-educated people with disabilities. This is allowing [employers] access to a pool they wouldn’t have access to; there’s a great deal of talent that’s underutilized.”

What benefit does your company provide to people with disabilities?
Often, potential employees with disabilities have no problem handling the interview, although they get nervous when it comes to taking the physical. It’s intimidating. We eliminate that discomfort by informing employers up front about candidates’ special needs, which also benefits employers since disabilities are often hidden during the interviewing process.

Is it true that employing an individual with disabilities can be cost-prohibitive?
That’s a myth. Approximately half of the necessary accommodations cost companies nothing, and the average cost is $500 — a small price to pay for hiring a qualified candidate.  The good news is that employees tend to know very well what they need, and often they have it.

When did you become an advocate for the disabled?
After the birth of my first child, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. My wife, Gabriella and I moved to Detroit upon his graduation from graduate school in Atlanta.

I’m active in the disability community and serve on the board for the Detroit Institute for Children. Combining my passion for the disabled community with my 15 years of business experience seemed like a natural fit.

It’s a great time to start a company in Michigan. Rent, material costs, etc. are lower in a down economy. At the same time, as companies begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, they start looking toward employment aggressively.
There’s great interest from corporations, especially those set on diversifying their workplace.

Workplace diversity rings true with consumers, making it not just good karma, but good business. Eighty-seven percent of people prefer to work with companies who’ve hired the disabled.

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