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Business Sense

Tips to Make Inclusion Easy

It's often said that small businesses are the backbone of U.S. economic growth, and the data clearly support this assertion. According to government statistics, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employing entities, provide work for about half of all private-sector employees and disburse 43 percent of the nation's total non-public payroll. What's more, they have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

These numbers mean more than just bolstered economies; they mean strengthened communities. So, it goes without saying that it's essential for small businesses to have effective strategies in place for attaining and retaining human capital, in both good economic times and bad.

By incorporating people with disabilities into these strategies, small businesses can gain a competitive edge. Inclusive recruitment, hiring and advancement practices expand a company's pool of potential talent. They also enhance continuity efforts by helping businesses manage change and retain the talents of an aging workforce.

To assist, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) recently published Small Business Resource Fact Sheet outlining information and resources available to assist small business employers better understand disability employment issues — from accommodations to recruitment to tax incentives.

EARN is a free service of the National Employer Technical Assistance Center funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that offers employers consultation and technical assistance, customized training and comprehensive online resources, including links to state and local community-based organizations serving job seekers with disabilities. It can be contacted at 1-855-AskEARN (275-3276) (Voice/TTY) or AskEarn.org.

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