According to recent research, organizations that foster inclusivity typically generate 2.3 times more cash flow per employee compared to their counterparts.
Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace can get overwhelming, especially if you try to tackle everything at once. It is kind of like trying to boil the ocean; you go nowhere fast.
Much like gender and cultural diversity in the workplace boosts productivity and raises the profit margin, including persons with disabilities in a company's diversity program also increases its competitive edge. They add unique viewpoints that bring practical solutions and make the company successful and more competitive in today's business atmosphere.
Disability inclusion means making sure everybody has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities and desires. This inclusion should also lead to the increased participation in socially expected life roles and activities such as being a student, worker, friend, community member, patient, spouse, partner, or parent.
If you need help promoting disability inclusion in the workplace, try our inclusion and diversity training. We show employers how to create an inclusive environment where employees can thrive and feel respected.
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Understanding the rights of persons with disabilities
The UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 27 states that;
"States Parties recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labor market and work environment that is open, inclusive, and accessible to persons with disabilities."
The principles and provisions provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities strengthen our responses against segregation and exclusion.
The Convention's Section e recognizes that disability is an evolving concept which results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Disability Inclusion in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak
As people with disabilities represent the third-largest market segment in the United States alone, by proactively employing individuals with disabilities, businesses can meet the needs of this expanding customer base.
Diversity and inclusion practices that are geared towards employees and job seekers tend to benefit everyone; the employers, the employees, and the customers. Employees with disabilities have as diverse skill sets as any other qualified individual. More importantly, they help diversify and strengthen their workplaces with the varied perspectives that they use to approach certain situations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a profound shift in the workplaces regarding how people work, which has led to businesses redefining the workspace. People have had to find new and creative ways of working because the old system is not ideal, and it just doesn't cut it anymore.
Over a span of a few short months, millions of people across the world have had to come up with new workplace accommodations that define their new workspaces, becoming the new normal. These include wearing face masks and opting to work remotely from home.
The adaptation of these supports is finally proving all the disability advocates right when they say that when disability inclusion is made a natural part of the workplace, then the barriers will fall, and the employees will thrive.
Never has the acknowledgment of our own shared humanity been more vital than it is now. The current health crisis signifies the importance of business leaders across all industries to recognize the role that widespread accommodation has on the success of their businesses. This is what disability inclusion is all about.
Dealing with bias and disability inclusion in the workplace.
Many people, including business managers, misunderstand people with disabilities, much to their detriment. There are a lot of benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. Disregarding employees with disabilities means that companies will not benefit from the wealth of resources and intellect they possess. This is why executives should be actively looking for ways to remove disability bias in the workplace and foster inclusivity effectively.
When executives view the hiring of persons with disabilities as part of a talent strategy as opposed to "the right thing to do," they will be able to acquire and leverage the talent that they bring into the business and be a step ahead of others in today's tight job market.
So how can companies tap into this pool of talent and resources?
Conduct training to help all employees understand the challenges that people with disabilities face.
This is easy to achieve as training has been made easy with platforms such as EasyLlama that provide intuitive and interactive training for all employees, including those in supervisory and managerial roles. Providing training to all employees means that they can work together and create a conducive environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable enough to contribute their best.
The objective of the training is to help individuals understand and empathize with the challenges that their colleagues with disabilities face and therefore reduce the stigma associated with disability.
Most people do not understand the disability experience. Training about disability bias alone will not do the trick. Management also needs to encourage talking about mental health and physical health issues for the notion of inclusivity to really sink in. Only by having an honest conversation about disability can we clear the disconnect between employees.
Engage with community groups that support people with disabilities to identify potential candidates for your company.
By building robust recruitment pipelines by engaging with groups that support people with disabilities, such as the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, companies can tap into the talent-rich pool of persons with disabilities. Due to stigma and discrimination, people with disabilities are usually reluctant to apply for some jobs because they typically think that they won't get it because of their various disabilities.
Create a space of the company where people with disabilities have a voice.
As the quote goes, "Accessibility is being able to get in the building. Diversity is getting invited to the table. Inclusion is having a voice at the table. Belonging is having your voice heard at the table." This not only applies to the employees but also to people living with disabilities outside the company. It would help if you asked them about how they would like to be treated by your business.
Only by inviting people with disabilities in and giving them a voice and a seat at your conference table can you have authentic viewpoints about your brand.
And if you are having trouble connecting, reaching out to local disabilities groups will help break the ice for you.
Acknowledge disability rights as human rights as well.
Hiring people with disabilities to comply with regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act defeats the whole purpose of fostering an inclusive workspace.
Seeing past the disability and seeing the ability within and giving the individual the opportunity to explore their talents further allows people with disability to reach their potential. Just like everyone else, they too have the capacity and drive to become remarkable individuals in society. All they need is support, encouragement, and acceptance, and not pity.
Create company policies that embrace inclusion and diversity.
Disability diversity and inclusion is a difficult journey that needs the cooperation of all employees, including the CEOs and Chief Diversity Officers, to be smoother.
Each individual at the workplace signs on to act as role models who hold each other accountable, therefore creating a culture of trust. Therefore, providing inclusion training for employees is important to bring awareness to employees about the significance of diversity and inclusion in a workplace.
Identify and discard processes that support unconscious bias.
Some work and hiring processes inherently have unconscious biases that discourage and limit people with disabilities from demonstrating their strengths despite their intellect and knowledge.
This is especially prevalent in cases that deal with people with mental disabilities such as autism. Instead of following the normal assessment process for hiring and interviewing candidates, organizations can develop specific assessment programs that have exercises designed to test their technical skills and teamwork.
Because the joint assessment practice does not play to people with disability strengths, these specific assessments make sure that solid candidates are not overlooked.
Why hiring people with disabilities makes good business sense.
Access to an untapped pool of talent.
When employers tap into this talent pool, they gain access to over 10 million working-age people. The reason for this is because:
People with disabilities are employed at a much lower rate than their peers despite the fact that they want to work.
One in every four adults has some type of disability, be it visible or not.
There are a ton of benefits for businesses as well.
It Increases productivity and innovation.
As is common in any community, diversity drives innovation. People with disabilities bring their different experiences and ideas that make them approach situations with fresh eyes, giving colorful solutions to various challenges.
With diversity inclusion, a company is bound to thrive. Leadership that truly puts effort into building a more inclusive workplace gains respect from their employees, fostering loyalty, leading to low employee turnover.
Companies with strong disability inclusion programs experience high employee engagement, working harmoniously in teams which increases productivity and profitability.
Builds a good reputation.
In recent years, clients have come to value companies that show commitment towards diversity inclusion. These companies demonstrate that they care about their employees and, as an extension, their diverse clientele.
In a time of political correctness, cancel-culture, and fights for diversity inclusion as an issue affecting society, having good diversity and inclusion policies and programs saves companies from the wrath of the masses.
Our bodies and minds are affected differently by age, disease, and the subtle nuances of genetics. It is therefore almost impossible to shed our physical and mental complexities while they are at work.
The Coronavirus has given people a tiny glimpse into the lives of people living with disabilities. Hopefully, this will make people more aware of what they go through every day and help them make disability inclusion a priority