Disability inclusion in the workplace is often overlooked. Disability Pride Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October) creates awareness for people with disabilities to embrace and accept their disabilities, show allyship, and create a positive influence. For employees with disabilities, allyship and attention can start in the workplace.
Disability inclusion means enabling and encouraging people with disabilities to do the same everyday activities as people without disabilities. It’s more than essential to become socially aware of the needs of the disability community. It’s about action and allyship. You can create inclusion at every touchpoint of the employee experience, from recruiting and hiring to exit. HR and People Leaders need to revisit their policy and procedures to ensure they meet state and federal laws and be inclusive to underrepresented communities.
Revisit and Revise Your Policy and Procedures
Remove barriers to disability inclusion by revisiting your company’s policies and how your company handles reasonable accommodations. Encourage your employees with disabilities to speak up and be heard if they see or experience inequities in the organization without fear of reprisal. Consider allowing employees to provide anonymous feedback so they feel safe and more comfortable expressing any concerns.
Make sure your company policy includes statements and language around your internal and external commitment to disability inclusion and equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities from hiring, retention, and performance management and promotion for all individuals. Additionally, ensure reasonable accommodations are met, for example, providing assistive technology to allow employees to work effectively, flexible scheduling, or job restructuring. The goal here is to make your employees feel like they belong in the company.
Update Hiring and Recruiting Process
Hiring people with disabilities should not be any different than hiring an abled person. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17.9% of people with a disability were employed in 2020, down from 19.3% in 2019. This was also a direct impact by the COVID-19 pandemic across all groups.
Organizations are just starting to tap into a large, hidden talent pool of qualified disabled individuals. A 2018 report by Accenture stated that organizations that embrace disability inclusion gain access to a talent pool of more than 10 million people. Connect and expand your network to the disability community and publish job postings to these groups. Some people with disabilities might be reluctant even to apply, so make sure every job posting and description explicitly includes an inclusion statement and policy.
Check out our microlesson on inclusive hiring and recruiting to combat unconscious bias
Weave in Disability into DEI Initiatives
For disability inclusion to be successful and effective at your company, make sure it is explicitly part of your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Here are some areas where you can include disability inclusion:
- Create an ERG for people with disabilities, which can help with professional development and leadership skills
- Organize engagement activities to build working relationships among all employees.
- Require Disability Protections in the Workplace training and Unconscious Bias training to educate everyone about treating people with disabilities with fairness and equity.
- Ensure you use “disability” and “people with disabilities” in your DEI policy and statements.
Learn more about the various other ways you can include disability inclusion across the entire organization by downloading our resource on Action Plan to Increase Diversity & Inclusion. Contact us to learn more about our course offerings and DEI solution for your organization.