Don't Overlook the Disabled Employee
Your article on credit unions that serve the disabled (CU Times, July 16), "How One Credit Union Discovered the Benefits of Tapping the Disaled for Workplace Talent", was mostly on target, but it didn't go nearly far enough. Credit unions should not only consider serving those with disabilities, but they should also be employing them. In 25 years working with credit unions I have heard countless managers complain about turnover on the front line. You hear this even today, when record-high unemployment should be improving the quality of new employees and reducing turnover. Persons with a disability are a long-overlooked resource in the labor market. Research shows those with disabilities regularly outperform other employees. They tend to be more responsible, have lower absenteeism and are usually more highly-motivated than other employees. And, the disabled are very loyal to their employer.you have to be a really awful manager to have a disabled person quit on you! So, why haven't credit unions embraced this resource? Managers may worry that hiring someone with a disability will increase their potential liability. They may feel the cost of "accommodations" for the employee may be too expensive. And, they may wonder if the new employee will "fit in". From a liability standpoint, hiring someone with a disability is no different than hiring someone without one. The average accommodation for a disabled person is less than $500, and it's a one-time cost. The "fitting in" is a little more tricky. The media portrayal of disabled persons as victims makes some people uncomfortable when dealing personally with those with a disability. But after your employees get to know these persons as individuals, "fitting in" won't be a problem. They have preferences, hobbies, skills and opinions just like anyone else. I was managing the education department of the Missouri Credit Union System when the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed. I put together a seminar for credit unions to explain ADA compliance, and brought in a local spokesman from Paraquad to discuss "the social aspects" of dealing with the disabled. The spokesman was a quadriplegic. After the seminar a co-worker, forgetting for a moment that I am legally disabled (with a form of Muscular Dystrophy), said, "My problem is, I just don't know what to say when I see someone (with a disability)." I replied, "How about, `Hello.' " Keep in mind that disability knows no age, no race and no gender. If you're born of Irish ancestry there's no way you will ever be Hispanic or African American. But every one of us is just one misstep or unfortunate incident away from joining the ranks of the disabled. I applaud the credit unions who are reaching out to recruit disabled members. Now, all credit unions should make an effort to add them to their employee rosters. It is truly a win-win situation. Darrell Bahr CEO The Accel Group Advertising & Communications St. Louis, Mo.