How to Build a Disability-Inclusive Workplace Culture

The above picture is of a woman in a wheelchair sitting at her desk shaking a man's hand.

How to Build a Disability-Inclusive Workplace Culture

With today's society being more open about the differences of every individual, many employers want to take part in it and strive for inclusion. They want to build diverse workforces that include people of different colors, religions, and gender. Furthermore, they also want to give career opportunities to people with disabilities but don't know what comes after that. 

If you're one of those companies who want to build a disability-inclusive workplace but don't know how to—we've got you. This blog will give you some ways to help with this kind of transition. Let's get started now!

Why Does Inclusion Matters? 

Building an inclusive workplace is also creating a safe, supportive, and productive environment for all employees. It encourages a sense of belonging and acceptance for everyone—free from discrimination. As a result, they become more motivated to come to work every day and perform to their best abilities. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Article, about 95% of [business] directors concur that diversity provides fresh perspectives to the boardroom, and 84% think it improves board performance. 

In addition to that, a report led by Accenture, in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN finds that disability-inclusive companies outperform their peers and experience 28% higher revenue.

Given all these, diversity and inclusion of all types are essential to a business's success. People with disabilities, gays, multiracial people, and veterans can give your company a competitive edge. They—as part of a diverse and inclusive team—can help strengthen your operations through innovation, creativity, and problem-solving.

Ways To Build A Disability-Inclusive Workplace 

There are many ways to foster inclusiveness for people with disabilities in the workplace. Here are a few of them:

Share Your Disability Inclusion Plan with Internal Teams 

The first thing you need to do as you start with the disability inclusion initiative is to communicate with your staff first. Sharing your disability inclusion plan with internal teams helps create a sense of commitment and understanding. Because when they learn the importance of building a disability-inclusive workplace and that they'll be taking part in it, their morale improves. As a result, you can quickly get them on board to make your plan a reality. 

In addition, sharing your plan with internal teams allows for open dialogue and feedback. They'll be able to voice out their thoughts about this transition and even suggest ideas to make the plan comprehensive and effective across all departments.

Provide Disability Awareness Training for All Staff

Once you get your team on board, the next step will be providing training about disability awareness. Such training can help reduce or, better yet, end the stigma and misconceptions surrounding people with disabilities. Your staff will be more aware of their own biases and learn how these can affect their interactions with them. Furthermore, the training can teach them about the rights of people with disabilities and how they can contribute to building an inclusive workplace.

However, know that the training should be for more than just managers and seniors. While leaders can help provide a safe environment, all company members must also be engaged in this initiative because most interactions happen from employee to employee. Training and providing activities to promote diversity and inclusion can help create a positive work environment for everyone.

Develop A Hiring And Retention Plan for People With Disabilities 

Companies should have effective policies and processes in place for sourcing, workplace accommodations, career development and advancement, and retention.

You start by checking your job descriptions and ensuring that they’re not discouraging candidates from applying for the positions available in your company. You can state that qualified applicants with disabilities and explain their benefits. 

Besides the content of your job postings, also make sure that they get in front of the right audience. There are many community partners you can connect with, such as Job Accommodation Network (JAN), Goodwill Industries, Easterseals, and The Arc. These organizations can help you with the hiring and accommodation processes that you’ll need to welcome candidates with disabilities.

Review Your Company Policies And Processes

It's also essential to review and update your current policies and processes to ensure they clearly define inclusivity in the workplace and adapt to the needs of those with disabilities. By doing so, you can ensure that the workplace is genuinely disability-inclusive.

However, you don't want to disregard those without disabilities. If you do that, you not only discourage them but also make people with disabilities feel different and need special treatment to thrive. So instead, propose a universal workplace flexibility policy and adjustments for all candidates and workers. It can be the choice of a remote setup, accommodations, or other things. That way, you can ensure that all employees are being treated fairly.

Foster Open Communication

Fostering open communication can create an environment of trust and support. It encourages employees to be honest and open about their experiences, needs, and concerns. Additionally, open communication allows employers to better understand and address any issues or challenges that arise. 

However, no matter how much you value communication, you must still respect confidentiality. Allow your employees to communicate discreetly about their concerns if they prefer it that way. 

Moreover, you must ensure that the communication and check-in with employees is an ongoing process rather than a one-time activity. That way, your employees will not just feel heard but also valued.

The Bottom Line

In these modern times, businesses should constantly strive to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. Because not only do you give qualified candidates who were previously discriminated against for their imperfections opportunity, but you also give your business a competitive edge. Individuals with disabilities are reliable and motivated. They're eager to support you in achieving your organizational objectives. Thus, now is the moment to include them in your diverse teams.