Shifting Perceptions: Right Person, Right Job

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

At Champions, we are often solicited by employers who would like more information about hiring and retaining persons with disabilities in their respective workplaces. When working with various employers we generally like to start by addressing many misconceptions that exist about persons with disabilities. Education and awareness can often go a long way towards removing stigma and discrimination and can be part of promoting greater participation of persons with with disabilities in the workplace.

For the next couple of weeks we are going to do a series of posts on this blog titled Shifting Perceptions. In these posts we will discuss many of the myths and misconceptions which exist and hopefully paint a truer picture of the reality of including persons with disabilities in the workplace.

Today's Myth: Persons who are deaf are perfect for noisy work environments.

Fact: Some loud noises can actually cause further harm to the auditory system. Persons who are deaf should be hired for all jobs that they have the skills and talents to perform. No person with a disability should be prejudged regarding employment opportunities.

At Champions, we see first hand how the right person
with the right skills in the right job is mutually
beneficial for everyone involved. Regardless of disability.  
This is a very specific myth regarding people with hearing impairments, but it represents an all too prevalent way of approaching inclusive hiring. Wheelchair user? Desk job then. Visual impairment? Answering phones. Bipolar? Maybe they should work alone. Down Syndrome? I have a cousin with that and he can't work. This is a dangerous way of thinking and often reflects the human tendency to generalize our thinking and stereotype based on past experiences.

One of my favourite books is Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman - a Nobel prize winning psychologist. It is primarily a book on decision making and how the human mind works in reaching conclusions. One of the concepts Kahneman introduces is What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI). This theory states that when the mind makes decisions, it deals primarily with phenomena it has already observed. It rarely considers phenomena that it knows to be relevant but about which it has no information, and it appears completely oblivious to the possibility of unknown phenomena of unknown relevance.

Kahneman explains that people often fail to take into account complexity, thus their understanding of the world consists of a small and not necessarily representative set of observations. He explains how the mind generally does not account for the role of chance, or other external factors, and therefore falsely assumes that future events will mirror past ones.

What You See Is All There Is can definitely manifest itself when thinking about persons with disabilities. We have a tendency to quickly form opinions about certain types of disabilities based on past experiences. We often have employers tell us they "hired a person with a disability once and it didn't work out" - as though every disability is the same, and every person living with a disability is also the same.

The range of disabilities is almost endless, and the way that everyone experiences their disability is infinite. Stereotyping persons with disabilities into one large group, or even aggregated groups, does not speak to the range of possibilities and can often lead to stigmatization based on misconceptions. Even more troubling is that thinking this way denies the range of abilities and skills that persons with disabilities possess, which is just as varied as persons without disabilities.

At Champions we understand that not every person is a fit for every job. Who hasn't seen a coworker get let go because of poor attitude or performance? But by understanding the key elements of any position, then you will be able to look at the skills, experience and ability of a candidate and make a hiring decision based on fit.

One of our connections on LinkedIn, Ian Wilson, had this to say about hiring the right person for the right job:

"The right person, in the right job with the right tools does not have a disability with respect to their ability to perform the job."

We couldn't agree more Ian.

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At 15 August 2013 at 22:45 , Blogger Elizabeth J. Neal said...

One of our connections on LinkedIn, Ian Wilson, had this to say about hiring the right person for the right job:removals london


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