Corporate Social Responsibility and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community
Updated: Jul 15, 2018
The term, corporate social responsibility (also often called corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, or responsible business) has become more mainstream in the last few years and is now defined more broadly as businesses embedding values into its operations that will benefit both the business and society in whole while maintaining profits. Examples of social responsibility often include businesses’ eco-friendly efforts, charities, volunteerism, and engaging better labor practices. Many businesses and organizations dedicate their resources to a specific area of social responsibility that best aligns with their philosophy or interest.
If businesses and organizations want to be radically different from others, they could step up and employ corporate social responsibility by specifically hiring deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people as their core mission. In achieving this, effective strategies can be advanced while still maintaining sustainable businesses. If this equilibrium is maintained, then the corporate social responsibility is achieved.
Corporate Social Responsibility Strategies for Hiring Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing People
Appraise Company’s Readiness. The first step toward attracting qualified deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing employees is to create a work environment that explicitly offers support and encouragement and allows them to feel included and productive. In order to do this, businesses and organizations must discover issues and challenges related to communication accessibility at their workplace. Not only that, employee misconceptions about deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people at the workplace must be also eradicated. During this process, the evaluation of accessibility across various business domains, including organization’s communication tools, employee orientation and ongoing training, other workplace arrangements, as well as assessing employees’ attitudes toward deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people needs to be completed. Once the appraisal of the company’s readiness is complete, the development of an action plan will help with implementing changes to ensure an accessible and inclusive workplace environment for all deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing employees.
Re-evaluate Company’s Hiring Practices. According to Walter and Dirmyer’s study in 2013 titled, The Effect of Education on the Occupational Status of Deaf and Hard of Hearing 26-64 Years Old, the percentage of deaf individuals joining in the workforce has been on a continual decline. The study also revealed that more than 80% of deaf people were part of the workforce in early 1970s vs. 48% in mid-2010s. The steady decline in employment rates may be largely due to discriminatory hiring practices by many businesses and organizations, whether or not they are doing so intentionally. Such practices can range from the discriminatory language on the job ad itself, to the application and the hiring process. Revising the hiring policies for the deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing candidates will go a long way for all parties involved.
Ramp up the Recruitment Efforts. When seeking deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing candidates to fill the positions, the same old recruitment strategies shouldn’t be used. Most businesses and organizations post their job vacancies to one job search engine or job board, and many of these job ads do not reach deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing candidates, both far and wide. Beyond the job ads, most business and organizations do not have a solid recruitment plan in place. That being said, businesses and organizations must expand their recruitment marketing strategies by actively engaging the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Community. Such examples can include posting jobs on deaf job boards, sponsoring deaf-related events, hosting workshops, setting up job fairs that are specifically for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people and many more.
Deaf Awareness and Inclusion Training. Many hearing employees are initially not comfortable with the idea of working with deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing as their co-workers. Their discomfort may largely be due to a lack of familiarity, fear, or ignorance. Providing deaf awareness and inclusion training at businesses or organizations, and addressing the communication needs of deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing individuals as well as how to best interact with them would be beneficial. This training can help businesses and organizations to achieve a sustainable environment of inclusion as the golden standard. This training can also aid the business executives in designing and implementing strategic and actionable plans to make their workplace fully inclusive.
By employing social responsibility, businesses and organizations can balance profit-making activities with activities that will combat against the high unemployment rate in the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Community. Social responsibility is far more effective when a business or organization takes it on voluntarily, as opposed to being required by the government to do so through laws or regulations. Social responsibility that is voluntarily adopted by businesses and organizations will boost their morale because they have the buy-in among its employees, and they are actively taking the steps to achieve their social cause by actively recruiting and hiring deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people as their employees.
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