As companies increase their diversity efforts, disability inclusion practices should also be reviewed. Approximately 61 million people in the United States, or nearly 1 in 4 (26%) people, live with a disability. (CDC) Since many disabilities are invisible, people with a disability may feel overlooked regarding job or growth opportunities at companies. Proactive inclusion gives everyone a chance to thrive in the workplace – and it’s the right thing to do.
What is Disability Inclusion?
The CDC defines disability inclusion as “understanding the relationship between the way people function and how they participate in society and making sure everybody has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities and desires.” Disability inclusion means including people with disabilities in daily functions and activities among their peers. It’s more than just fulfilling a quota. They have an equal opportunity to participate and become part of a company, team, group, and any role they can pursue.
Benefits of Disability Inclusion
When individuals are represented and feel included in their environment, everyone benefits. Disabled people feel welcomed and live more enriched lives, and everyone else can learn, gain empathy, and be open to new perspectives.
Some of the benefits of disability inclusion include:
- Increased productivity because of the enhanced creativity and unique perspective your organization can gain.
- Enhanced camaraderie because of a welcoming and inclusive company culture.
- Improved internal morale and external perceptions when your organization is branded as accepting and inclusive.
- Better talent sourcing because you’re open to a broader network of qualified candidates.
How Can Companies Improve Disability Inclusion?
1. Start with the recruitment process
Inclusion will always start in the hiring process because the people you hire will add to the evolving work culture. Make sure you have a recruitment policy that states your company does not discriminate based on disability and adheres to ADA guidelines. All your recruiters, managers and executives need to understand this policy and conduct their interviews and hiring decisions accordingly.
2. Reevaluate your company’s training and education
Training and education about disability awareness in the workplace are essential for your workforce to learn and practice inclusive behavior. Educational programs help people stay informed and understand what not to do and what to do when interacting with disabled coworkers and customers. This training should be mandatory and open discussions should be encouraged for people with questions or concerns.
3. Create a safe space
Make the work environment a safe space. People with disabilities want to feel like they are spending their time with people who understand and support them and are in an environment that will help them thrive. Be open to making improvements at the workplace – whether you’re back in the office or working remotely. Gather feedback and suggestions and continue to try to improve your offerings to be able to help disabled employees to feel comfortable when they’re at work.
4. Allow for informal and open dialogue
People will make mistakes. Allow room for improvement and be open to questions. Some people might not know how to act or talk in an informal setting. Questions are encouraged but beware of making assumptions or getting too personal. Showing you care can help the disabled person feel more included and welcomed, but don’t press on topics they’re not comfortable discussing in a work setting.
5. Be open to learning
You might need to hire an expert or tap into external sources to help you with disability inclusion. If that’s the case, use this as an opportunity for you and your employees to learn. Experts are there to help companies with the right way to communicate, incorporate policies and inform you on other legal matters you might not know about. Additionally, they will be the best resource for adopting changes such as interpretations, sign language, subtitle help and more. You should always consult your own legal counsel for specific workplace disability issues.
Be Open to Inclusivity
To improve your disability inclusion initiatives, you must embrace change and create an inclusive culture. When it starts with leadership and company culture, your actions will encourage everyone else to be open and change – spreading throughout the organization. Always remember that everyone deserves a chance to pursue their passions and interests.
Looking to hire? Contact your local branch today to learn more about the talented professionals we have available and see how Roth Staffing Companies including Ultimate Staffing, Ledgent Finance & Accounting, Ledgent Technology, Adams & Martin Group and About Talent, can be a resource to you for your staffing and recruitment needs.