Seven ways teams can invest in disability inclusion
Disability inclusion is the active and intentional effort to ensure individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities, access, and participation in all aspects of society.
As an increasingly important issue in the modern workplace, disability inclusion is built on the principle that diversity enriches all of us. From the workplace to broader society, it’s dedicated to breaking down systematic and unconscious bias to envision a future where everyone can belong, contribute, and succeed without discrimination.
A neuro-distinct person myself, I have always worked to advocate for disability inclusion, because I believe that good design and an inclusive workplace benefit all of us. As we envision the future of work, businesses need to look beyond diversity checkboxes and figure out if they are doing their part in making the workplace accessible and disability friendly.
Here’s how leaders can create policies, communication standards, and accommodations that ensure that employees with disabilities can contribute and succeed in the workplace without being subject to discrimination:
INCLUSION AND THE FUTURE OF WORK
Many employers today say they are committed to building a more inclusive environment for employees with disabilities. But more often than not, many organizations find themselves lacking in infrastructure, resources, and policies for create a work environment where ability knows no bounds.
According to WHO, 16% of the world’s population, about 1.3 billion people, lives with some kind of disability, which includes individuals with physical, sensory, and intellectual impairments.
Historically, people with disabilities have been excluded from the workforce and still face employment barriers such as inaccessible technology, lack of accommodations, and limited career development opportunities.
But disability inclusion adds value to business by allowing companies to tap into a wider pool of talented employees, increase productivity through an influx of new ideas, and foster an overall culture of acceptance.
INVESTING IN A DISABILITY-INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
“I wish for a world that views disability, mental or physical, not as a hindrance but as unique attributes that can be seen as powerful assets if given the right opportunities,” writes neurologist and bestselling author Oliver Sacks.
Building a disability-inclusive workplace starts with understanding the needs and experiences of employees with disabilities. Companies can increase disability awareness through sensitivity training, engaging with disabled communities, and encouraging employee feedback. Offering disability-inclusive services, such as access to assistive technology, flexible work arrangement, and support for health and wellness, can also make a difference in the lives of employees with disabilities.
Fostering a disability-friendly work culture is also instrumental to employee productivity and well-being. Fortunately there are several things leaders can do to create this healthy culture. Here are seven:
1. Create an accessible environment
Businesses must ensure that the physical work environment is accessible, which includes doorways, elevators, restrooms, and workspaces. From a technology standpoint, leaders and changemakers must deliver on access to assistive technology (AT), such as screen readers, audio output devices, and adjustable desks.
2. Implement inclusive policies
A significant part of disability inclusion is baking inclusivity into business policies, so that accommodations are designed “by the book” to allow flexible work arrangements. Companies must have proper checks and balances for employees willing to disclose their disabilities and ensure they don’t face discrimination at work.
3. Create communication standards
Language makes and mars our experience of the world. Therefore, it’s critical that companies employ accessible communication methods, such as captioned videos and audio descriptions, and ensure that a business’s knowledge base is available in alternative formats, such as in braille or large print.
4. Promote disability awareness
To ensure that inclusive communication standards are met and maintained by all employees in an organization, businesses must conduct regular training sessions on inclusivity and accommodations at work.
5. Set inclusive recruitment standards
Business leaders should ensure that job openings are advertised transparently and that the recruitment process is free from bias.
6. Provide professional support
Leaders must emphasize guiding employees, including those with disabilities, through mentorship programs and provide accommodations when necessary.
7. Encourage a culture of feedback:
A cornerstone of growth is active listening. Businesses must seek input from employees with disabilities and improve the work environment based on their experiences.
Preparing for the future of the workplace will require creating a blueprint for how work, workers, and the workplace can evolve to include better and newer ways of working. As disability awareness continues to increase in society through advocacy, academia, and popular culture, businesses need to jump to action if they want to engage employees, increase retention, and remain relevant. But more than a good business decision, disability inclusion is about envisioning an equitable future for all. It marks the possibility for creativity, innovation, and sustainable growth. The time is now to get to work.
Article link – https://www.fastcompany.com/90860476/7-ways-teams-can-invest-in-disability-inclusion