Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce
Member Voices

Hiring people with disabilities is good for your business

Did you know 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have some type of disability? You probably have a friend, family member, or employee who has some type of disability. You may have a disability yourself.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., seeing, breathing, walking, talking, hearing, sleeping, etc.). There are people with visible disabilities, such as someone who uses a wheelchair, someone with an amputation, or someone who uses a white cane or service animal. There are also people with hidden disabilities, such as autism, learning differences, or psychiatric disabilities.

According to the Current Population Survey, in 2022, the national unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 7.6%, while it was just 3.5% for people without a disability. In Sioux Falls, our unemployment rates are even lower, and we know local businesses are struggling to fill their workforce needs. We also know there are skilled and qualified job seekers with disabilities in our community.

Companies that employ and support people with disabilities consistently outperform their peers.

Employment Disability Resources (formerly Business Resource Network), a nonprofit established in 2010, can assist businesses to successfully recruit, retain, and promote individuals with disabilities. Employment Disability Resources serves as a liaison between job seekers with disabilities and businesses looking for employees. Their mission is “To provide education, awareness, and resources to promote the successful employment and inclusion of people with disabilities.”

A 2018 report from Accenture, in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability: IN, revealed that companies that employ and support people with disabilities consistently outperformed their peers.

The benefits to businesses that employ people with disabilities include:

  1. Expanded customer base – People with disabilities represent one of the largest market segments in the U.S. By employing people with disabilities, businesses can gain a better understanding of how to meet the needs of this important and expanding customer base.
  2. Favorable public perception – According to a National Survey of Consumer Attitudes towards Companies that Hire People with Disabilities, 92% of the American public view companies that hire people with disabilities more favorably. 87% of the public also prefers giving their business to companies that hire people with disabilities.
  3. Increased employee retention – Turnover can be costly. Studies have shown that employees with disabilities stay at jobs longer, reducing the time and cost involved in recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. The Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report states that $15,000 is the average cost to replace an employee (per worker earning a median salary of $48,672).

Perseverance and problem-solving abilities are often strengths of employees with disabilities because of the barriers they face in everyday life. Disability diversity in the workplace can bring creativity, innovation, and commitment, along with improved productivity and morale. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) member survey showed 97% of Human Resource professionals said employees with disabilities regularly perform the same or better than their peers without disabilities.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To begin or advance your efforts to build a disability-inclusive workplace, contact Employment Disability Resources at (605) 215-1760 or

Vicki Stewart Headshot

Vicki Stewart

Vicki Stewart is the executive director of Employment Disability Resources.