Is Your Workplace Disability Inclusive?

Jim McKinley
3 minutes reading time
February 17, 2021

Ninety percent of companies claim to prioritize diversity in the workplace. Yet, only 4 percent include disability in their diversity and inclusion initiatives. In fact, most diversity and inclusion efforts focus only on two groups: women and minorities.

When diversity and inclusion initiatives exclude people with disabilities, it doesn't only do a disservice to the millions of underemployed and unemployed Americans with disabilities. Companies also miss out on the benefits of a truly diverse workforce when they fail to consider disabled workers.

a person is using a braille keyboard at work
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

The Benefits of Workplace Disability Inclusion

Why should companies invest in disability inclusion? Here are all the ways businesses benefit when they hire people with disabilities.

Inclusive companies:

●      Gain access to a talent pool of more than 10.7 million people.

●      Reduce staff turnover up to 30%.

●      Enhance brand reputation and loyalty through corporate social responsibility.

●      Achieve higher revenue, net income, and profit margins on average.

●      Are 4x more likely to outperform their peer group in total shareholder returns.

What Does It Cost to Accommodate Disabled Workers?

Despite the clear advantages of a disability-inclusive workplace, employers remain hesitant to hire workers with disabilities. One big reason? A misguided belief that accommodating disabled employees is too expensive.

These fears are largely unfounded. In fact, 60 percent of workplace accommodations cost the employer nothing. The remaining accommodations average only $500 per employee. As companies shift towards remote work, these costs are trending even lower thanks to mainstream remote work software with native accessibility features and affordable apps like Supersense. Not to mention, remote work itself eliminates a major barrier, especially for visually impaired and blind employees: the commute.

Tips for Building a Disability-Inclusive Company

Now you know why recruiting and hiring people with disabilities is worth the effort, but how can you go about creating a disability-inclusive culture?

First, it's important to assess the barriers that discourage people with disabilities from working for you. If you don't have an internal human resources department, HR consulting services can identify which application, interview, and recruitment practices may inadvertently turn away candidates with disabilities. For example, are you posting jobs on inaccessible websites, requiring in-person interviews, or including generic physical requirements for jobs where they're not actually necessary? Often, companies default to “standard” hiring practices without considering the impact on diversity and inclusion.

Inclusion doesn't stop at recruitment. Organizations also need to consider the physical environment and workday structure to effectively accommodate workers with disabilities. Is a 9-to-5 schedule truly necessary for employees, or could you implement flexible work arrangements that let workers adapt schedules to their needs? Does staff need to work on site, or could your company become more inclusive and save money with remote work? If on-site work is required, does the physical environment facilitate full participation by employees with disabilities?

Other ways to accommodate employees with disabilities include:

●      Implement a hiring process that focuses on merit and skills.

●      Ensure your website and employee portals are accessible.

●      Clearly communicate your accommodation practices and procedures.

●      Choose software and digital meeting platforms with built-in accessibility features.

●      Practice inclusive communication.

●      Promote diverse employees to leadership positions.

●      Solicit feedback on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Inclusive workplaces don't just happen. It takes effort to build a company culture where everyone feels welcome. If people with disabilities aren't represented in your organization, it's time to examine why. By making a dedicated effort to foster all forms of diversity, disability, and visual impairment included, you can build a company that's more innovative, inclusive, and profitable than ever before.

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