Fostering Disability Inclusiveness in Your Organization
According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research, one in four US adults has a disability. So, the chances are high that you or someone that you know has a disability. Despite this prevalence, research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics highlight that employees with disabilities are still underrepresented. In fact, while 90% of organizations regard diversity as a priority, only 4% believe that disability diversity should be part of this strategy.
This is unfortunate as countless studies have highlighted the benefits disability inclusion. For example, disability-inclusive companies outperform their peers financially. This includes 28% higher revenue, double the net income, and 30% higher economic profit margins.
Understanding Disability Inclusion
Disability inclusion in the workplace refers to the practice of creating an environment where individuals with disabilities are treated with respect, provided equal opportunities, and supported in realizing their full potential. This goes beyond meeting legal requirements – it’s about building a culture that celebrates differences and actively seeks to remove barriers that might limit the contributions of disabled employees.
Benefits of Disability Inclusion
- Enhanced Innovation. Diverse teams bring together a wide range of perspectives, leading to fresh insights that might not have been discovered otherwise. By including individuals with disabilities, companies tap into a unique wellspring of creativity and problem-solving.
- Increased Employee Engagement. When employees feel that their individuality is respected and valued, they are more engaged and committed to their work. This, consequently, inspires higher productivity and increased job satisfaction.
- Improved Reputation. Companies that prioritize disability inclusion are viewed positively by customers, employees, and prospective employees. This translates into a strong reputation and competitive market advantage.
Facilitating a Disability-Inclusive Workplace
Beyond typical compliance items (e.g., physical accessibility or reasonable job accommodations), consider the below tips to facilitate a disability-inclusive workplace.
- Set the tone. As inclusivity efforts should start from the top, leadership commitment is necessary. Such commitment sends a powerful message to the entire organization about the importance of fostering an inclusive environment. This, as research has shown, builds a more open and less discriminatory climate.
- Educate. Educate your employees about various disabilities, common challenges, and the importance of inclusivity. For example, training sessions can help break down stereotypes, foster empathy, and raise awareness.
- Empower. Research has suggested that self-efficacy—feeling capable at work—is a key link between disability and thriving at work. This can be facilitated by such interventions as ensuring ideal person-job fit, increasing decision-making latitude, and celebrating wins.