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  • Ashley Sims

3 Ways Company Leaders Can Hold Themselves Accountable for Disability Inclusion

In today's world, diversity and inclusion are no longer just buzzwords, but an integral part of building a successful and sustainable business. As more and more companies recognize the immense value of a diverse workforce, it's important to realize that achieving diversity and inclusion requires real commitment. It's not just about making a statement but taking measurable and incremental steps towards progress. And, to ensure that this journey towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace is effective, it requires holding oneself accountable.

 

As a responsible leader, take full accountability for these initiatives and lead by example. The following steps outline how leaders can best take responsibility for disability inclusion and hold themselves accountable for creating an inclusive workplace that values the contributions of every individual.


Group of people talking

1.   Communicate why disability inclusion is important to the business, educate yourself and your organization about disability, and provide tools for success


  • The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes both visible and non-visible (also called non-apparent) conditions. It’s important to note that non-visible conditions are often overlooked, especially in the workplace. Non-visible disabilities may include, but are not limited to mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, personality disorders, autism, visual impairments, hearing loss, sensory and processing difficulties, cognitive impairments, and non-visible health conditions (including diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, etc.). It's highly likely that you are already working with individuals with disabilities, even if you are not aware of it. Having a disability doesn't necessarily mean that a person is incapable of performing certain tasks or jobs. In fact, many individuals with disabilities are more than capable of performing their job duties and may even do so more efficiently because of their disability. Other times, a person with a disability may simply require a job accommodation to help them do so. A job accommodation is an adjustment made to a job or work environment that enables an individual with a disability to do their job properly. Such accommodations may include specialized equipment, modifications to the work environment, or adjustments to work schedules or responsibilities. It's also worth noting that not all people with disabilities require the same type of accommodation, and sometimes, even individuals with the same disability may require different accommodations.

  • Provide inclusion training to equip employees with knowledge and skills on how to adequately include and accommodate people with disabilities and how to understand and address their own biases.

  • Ensure that you are your work environment is inclusive and you have adequate policies in place that support workplace accommodations if requested.


2. Be transparent about progress. Share data such as self-ID percentages and disability hire numbers both internally and externally.  Companies such as Pepsi, Roche, Synchrony, and CenterPoint regularly share data internally and have done so in case studies with Disability Solutions.


  • Sharing data and information that backs up these initiatives can empower new employees or existing employees who have not previously disclosed to do so. The impact of this is also reflected in the self-ID campaigns that many of our clients choose to run.


3. Tie disability inclusion to companywide DEI initiatives.


  • Understand how disability inclusion fits into the employee life cycle within your organization and ensure supports are built into the system to assist both employees and managers in each phase.

    • Outreach and recruitment

      • Accessible job board/career center website, applications, and interview process with available accommodations, etc.

    • Employee onboarding

    • Accessible office space, tools, software, materials, and/or reasonable accommodations as needed, etc.

    • Career development and engagement opportunities

    • Inclusive career-building opportunities and programs, etc.

    • Termination & post-employment activities.

    • Accessible exit surveys, etc.


  • This is a great topic for Employee Resource Groups. Encourage open conversations about disability and ableism within the organization. This creates a more positive work environment, where everyone feels valued and respected.

    • Celebrate increased disability hiring numbers and use those trends to inform company policies and strategies.

    • Discuss areas for improvement, such as accommodations, etc


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