Shadowing & Pairing for (Dis)ability Hiring Equity >> Advent Policy Brief #21

Ambulatory neurotypicals seldom think about how work places are exclusive. There's just work to be done, and the people who apply for the jobs will do the work. Repeat ad nauseam. I wish it was that easy. My 21st Advent Policy Brief suggests job shadowing and pairing would greatly improve placement and retention of (dis)abled workers. 

Whole sectors of work are unavailable to (dis)abled job seekers by structural exclusion. I'm quite privileged among (dis)abled people, but certain types of work would absolutely destroy my health. It is not a preference against those types of work; I'm actually sad about the lost opportunities. My anxiety precludes driving jobs; my shoulders/spine rule out work requiring overhead reaching; my depression and OCD stops me from applying to morally reprehensible companies. Add that neurodivergence means I'm going to tell an interviewer an unrelatable truth instead of palatable lie and that episodes of acute spinal pain can take me offline for a day with zero notice. 

Job-matching difficulties are super stigmatized for people with invisible (dis)abilities. I've had a friend in who works in private sector HR ask why I disclose (dis)ability on my resume. I do it because I don't want to get a job I can't do, but I'm educated and ambulatory, so it's easy for people to see my talent and ignore my struggle. 

On top of regular career, financial, geographic, and family considerations, (dis)abled applicants carefully consider three additional factors before applying:
    -how much time and effort the application itself takes
    -the possibility of performing the job indefinitely in balance with health
    -perceived likelihood of success in applying
For (dis)abled people, a job that degrades life quality can literally kill us. Misrepresenting our suitability or realistic chances for available positions is self-sabotage.

Two job approaches would solve a lot of (dis)ability employment malaise: shadowing and pairing.

Being able to shadow someone currently performing a role would help (dis)abled workers adapt to roles from labourers to executives. A shadowing period allows the employee and employer time to set up any accommodations that might be required and evaluate the long-term suitability of the hire. Shadowing is particularly useful for neurodivergents who think in whole systems and who the practices of seniority leaves behind.

I also advocate pairing jobs, so each position is filled by a duo instead of a single worker. The pair would share a single email address and all task assignments. Work partners can ease (dis)abled co-workers into complex work procedures and culture with a human touch. Duos sharing responsibility also creates the kind flexibility workplaces need to accommodate episodic conditions.

Oh yeah, and we need a universal basic income so (dis)abled people can have a floor on which to plan meaningful careers in balance with health needs.