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A National Survey of Consumer Attitudes towards Companies that Hire People with Disabilities

by Gary Siperstein, Neil Romano, Amanda Mohler and Robin Parker

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Employers’ negative attitudes and fears have long been a barrier to the employment of individuals with disabilities. Accordingly, attitude literature on the employment of people with disabilities has focused almost exclusively on employers. However, due to their influence over business practices, the successful employment of people with disabilities is also contingent on the views of the consumer. This study extends previous studies that focused on the attitudes of employers, and went directly to the consumer. Consumer attitudes toward companies that hire individuals with disabilities were assessed through a national public survey (N = 803).

Most of the participants (75%) had direct experience with people with disabilities in a work environment. Moreover, these experiences were positive. All participants responded positively towards companies that are socially responsible, including 92% of consumers who felt more favorable toward those that hire individuals with disabilities. The participants also had strong positive beliefs about the value and benefits of hiring people with disabilities, with 87% specifically agreeing that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire individuals with disabilities. Implications of consumer support on company hiring practices are discussed.

 


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