Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives have become increasingly prevalent in today’s workplaces. Great strides have been made towards equality in the workplace across gender, race, sexual orientation, and several other factors. But one group that DEI programs, unfortunately, tend to leave out is people with disabilities.
According to the United Nations, approximately 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) has a disability. Including this significant minority in your DEI initiatives and programs can not only help your team feel more comfortable in the workplace; doing so can also improve your organization’s hiring and retention abilities. A report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that companies lose $223 billion to turnover every five years due to poor workplace culture and toxic work environments. A lack of attention to fully inclusive DEI programs contributes heavily to this number.
As you look toward expanding your DEI initiatives to appropriately address the needs of people with disabilities, there are a few key ideas to keep in mind.
Work towards inclusion from day one
DEI initiatives should expand from the beginning of the hiring process to the end of employment. When someone comes to your website to view your current job openings, will they experience an ADA-compliant webpage? If they click through a job description, will they see that you’re committed to making accommodations? Do you provide closed captioning, subtitles, or ASL interpreting for video interviews or conferences?
Many aspects of the recruiting and hiring process can flag your organization as inclusive for people with disabilities. Walking through your hiring and onboarding process with an expert in DEI initiatives for people with disabilities can help your potential employees and your organization.
Educate your team
Working to include people with disabilities in your organization also means educating those that aren’t experiencing a disability. While a person with a mobility aid may be immediately viewed as a person with a disability, many disabilities are invisible. From arthritis and chronic headaches to ADHD and depression, there are many challenges that someone could be facing that aren’t immediately apparent.
Educating your managers and hiring managers is particularly important. If your upper-level management is well educated on disability etiquette, invisible disabilities, and your organization’s inclusion initiatives surrounding people with disabilities, you can spread this inclusion from the top-down. Embedding this inclusive culture in your company can help your employees to feel more comfortable disclosing their disability status and asking for accommodations that will help them excel at their job.
Accommodations are an effective way to work towards workplace equality for people with disabilities. In fact, 75% of surveyed respondents report that implementing accommodations was very effective or extremely effective for their organization.
Implementing accommodations costs your organization very little. In the same survey, 56% of respondents stated that the accommodations needed by their employees had no associated cost, and 39% experienced only a one-time cost averaging just $500.
Having clear protocols for your employees to ask for and receive accommodations allows you and your employee to work together to plan how they can best engage in their work. Accommodations as simple as providing written instructions rather than verbal instructions for a person with ADHD or providing software that magnifies a computer screen for a person with low vision can make an incredible difference for your employees and in the inclusivity of your working environment.
Create an easy process for disclosure
While some individuals with disabilities may have no issues disclosing their experience to their manager and peers, others may not want to disclose publicly. Providing a confidential way for individuals with disabilities to request accommodations is vital.
The process you set up should be simple and accessible, with the expectation that all information will remain private and only be shared with those needed to meet the accommodation. SHRM has an example of what this could look like in your organization.
Restructuring your DEI programs and initiatives to include people with disabilities requires learning and care. As you work to implement new inclusion programs in your organization, request feedback from experts and your team. They may be able to provide you with lived or learned experiences that will help you to improve inclusivity in your organization.
Do you need help with your firm’s hiring and talent strategy?
Boomer Talent Consulting can help you get clarity on your firm’s most critical talent objectives and create a go-forward strategy suited to your firm’s unique needs. Schedule a discovery call today to begin implementing an organizational structure that is positioned and accelerating into the future.
As a Project Coordinator for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Kye is is excited to be part of a company that is making change happen. Her primary focus is assisting with Boomer Consulting’s Training programs and supporting, planning and executing projects.