CHARLOTTE — Many companies embrace diversity, but ignore disability and AllAbility Recruiting aims to change that. The new Charlotte-based firm is breaking down the stigma of disability by advocating for job seekers who need accommodations and helping inclusive employers find quality candidates.

AllAbility Founder and CEO Anessa Powell said she was inspired to start the company after her own diagnosis with Addison’s Disease, a rare autoimmune disease, opened her eyes to the invisible disability community. Powell became a disability advocate and speaker in Charlotte in order to educate others that disabilities come in many forms.

Through networking, she learned many talented disabled individuals were failing to find full-time employment. Whether it be the stigma of disclosing to an employer that they have a disability, or the lack of accommodations provided, Powell was baffled companies weren't recognizing this untapped talent pool.

“If they are the most talented person for the job and they just happen to need a few accommodations, then it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Powell, who runs AllAbility with her husband, Bill. “And sometimes the accommodations are so small.”

Unlike a typical recruiting firm, AllAbility works exclusively with candidates who benefit from workplace accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes job seekers with auditory, visual, cognitive, intellectual and physical disabilities, as well as neurodiversity, chronic illness and mental health issues.

AllAbility launched at the end of June and is in the process of building out its client list. Candidates looking for work in Charlotte can submit their information and resume on AllAbility’s website so the firm can learn about their needs and have their information on hand. When AllAbility sees a potential job match, they will reach out to the candidate directly. Powell said candidates can also apply directly to jobs posted on AllAbility’s job board, once it’s up and running.

Although not required, Powell said candidates are encouraged to disclose their disability to AllAbility so the firm can explain to potential employers the short or long term accommodations they might need.

“We are their advocate to the company,” Powell said. “Before, they had to be their own advocate and some people don’t feel comfortable, so we’re there to empower them to be vocal.”

Charlotte-based companies or remote employers who want to offer a more inclusive environment can submit their hiring needs and AllAbility will find candidates in its network who fit. Employers who use AllAbility pay a fee once a candidate has been successfully placed in a new job.

“If an employee needs accommodations and they’re honored from the beginning, then they’re going to be the most loyal employee you’ll ever have because they feel valued,” Powell said. “Plus, businesses focused on disability engagement tend to have a higher retention rate, lower turnover and increase in employee productivity, so it really is a win-win.”

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