One-half of Canadians think candidate more likely to be hired if hides disability: Survey

Misconceptions around accommodation costs intimidating employers

One-half (48 per cent) of Canadians believe a person is more likely to be hired or promoted if they hide their disability, according to a survey by BMO Bank of Montreal. That perception is even higher (55 per cent) among respondents who said they have a disability, found the poll of 1,000 workers.

"Despite dismantling many barriers to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce, certain, perhaps hidden, forces are still at play,” said Sonya Kunkel, managing director of diversity and inclusion at BMO Financial Group. “We need to do more to uncover and address them. This is the only way to reduce a persistently high employment gap.”

Of the approximately 16 per cent of Canadians with a disability, 30 per cent are able and want to work but they are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as people who do not have a disability, said BMO.

"Longstanding myths and misperceptions continue to get in the way of businesses hiring more employees from this relatively large and untapped talent pool," said Kunkel.

One misperception is the cost of accommodations. Studies show 20 per cent of employees with a disability require no accommodations at all, while the average cost for those that do is $500 — an amount that is affordable for most businesses, large and small, said Kunkel.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of survey respondents said they had no idea how much accommodations cost, and the mean guess was $10,000.

Many hiring managers also overestimate the cost of accommodations and assume the candidate would not be able to perform the job.

"This too is a misconception. There is a strong business case for including more people with disabilities in your workforce. Numerous studies and our own experience show that people with disabilities perform as well or better than their colleagues, and have similar or better retention rates," Kunkel.

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