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Business Sense

Inclusive Workplace = Expanded Marketplace

Want to tap into the third largest market segment in the U.S.? Any smart business owner would. And as with any customer segment, one of the best ways to do so is to ensure it is represented in your workforce.

Interestingly, this demographic isn't a particular race, gender or age group. It's people with disabilities. The size of this population — 54 million strong — surpasses Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as Generation X and teens. Add in their families and friends, and the estimated purchasing power grows exponentially.

By proactively employing people with disabilities, businesses can gain a better understanding of how to meet the needs of this important and expanding customer base. What's more, research shows that consumers both with and without disabilities favor businesses that employ people with disabilities.

But while research shows that a workplace inclusive of people with disabilities is good for business, not all employers know how to effectively hire and retain such individuals. To help, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recently created a central webpage for employers listing resources that can assist.

Among these resources is the recently released Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion, which outlines proactive disability employment strategies employers can implement across seven key operational areas. With ideas for businesses of all sizes, this guide is an essential resource for employers wishing to ensure their workplaces — and customer bases — are diverse and inclusive.

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP's e-mail updates.