A recent article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/upshot/fake-cover-letters-expose-discrimination-against-disabled.html?ref=business&_r=0) reviewed a study conducted by researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse University revealing that if a candidate discloses a disability in their job application it might adversely affect their chances of being hired.
The study entailed fictitious resumes and cover letters sent to companies posting accounting positions. In some of the cover letters, researchers indicated a spinal cord injury, in others Asperger’s, while a third specified no disability. The study showed that applications disclosing a disability were less likely to be considered, by 34% for experienced candidates and 15% for candidates just starting out in their careers. Based on this finding, it appears the more prudent approach is to not reveal a disability. However, the study highlighted another interesting trend: the bias was much smaller and even negligible for larger firms, publicly traded firms, and firms with federal contracts. In part, because they are mandated by federal law to show positive efforts towards recruiting disabled individuals and veterans.
The take away is that if someone with a disability is applying to a large firm, at least for an accounting position, which was the focus ofthis research, although probably true across the board, revealing a disability will likely not be harmful. If the firm is small though, it might be best not to self-identify.
Dr. Les Halpert is ICD's President & CEO.