10 initiatives for employers to be more inclusive of people with disabilities

What is one initiative that can help an organization kick start their efforts to be more inclusive of people with disabilities?

To help your organization become more inclusive of people with disabilities, we asked HR leaders and D&I professionals this question for their best ideas. From instituting a national awareness day to training and educating all staff, there are several initiatives proposed to help organizations make their workplace more inclusive of people with disabilities. 

Here are 10 proposed initiatives to make the workplace more inclusive:

  1. Institute national awareness month
    One amazing initiative any organization can launch to be more inclusive of people with disabilities is a National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) event during October. Whether it is a full week of activities or just a day of informative presentations, an NDEAM event tackles disability issues and promotes disability inclusion year-round.
    Through this process, everyone at the organization can all benefit and learn about the best tools and resources for effective inclusion practices. Participating in an NDEAM event also shows support for the cause and an organization’s willingness to be part of something bigger.
    Phillip Akhzar, Arka

  2. Involve them in decision-making
    The swiftest and most effective way to be inclusive of people with disabilities is to make them part of the conversation. Solicit their input for inclusivity ideas. Hear out their lived experiences and let these inform the company's diversity and inclusion practices. Give them a seat at the table where solutions are being cooked up.
    Jason White, All About Gardening

  3. Incorporate inclusive values in online marketing
    If you want your business to be more inclusive of people with disabilities, be transparent about disability inclusion. Demonstrate your values in your online marketing. Even if you incorporate your business's commitment to including people with disabilities in your job ads, you could still emphasize these values using social campaigns. The more you showcase your company's inclusive values, the more these values will be known to the public. This will not only help more people recognize your company as an inclusive place to work, it’ll also help you do your part to influence positive change.
    Jared Hines, Acre Gold

  4. Spotlight disability issues
    One initiative that we tried and worked with at RushOrder Tees is having a  “Day In The Life OF” (DILO) activity. It aims at experiencing the regular day routine of someone with a disability. With this comes first hand insights into any issues he or she might face, helping us to improve the working environment. We regularly have this activity for students to experience the work life of our staff members and also across different departments so as to find any opportunities for improvement in how departments work together. Doing it for people with disabilities has helped improve our policy to be more inclusive. It has helped highlight many things we need to upgrade regarding accessibility of wheelchairs, improve access and use of our facilities and give courses about communication and attitude towards people with disabilities.
    Michael Nemeroff, Rush Order Tees

  5. Work with new mindset
    Organizations and businesses require employees who are willing to go the extra mile, who are able to adapt and be flexible, who can be empathetic to others and who can think differently. The concept and business of disability is often misunderstood, and disability can come in many forms. For an organization and its employees to be truly inclusive, they must be able to work with a different mindset and shift their thinking in regards to certain ideas and concepts. For example, an inclusive organization would be one that enables an employee with a disability to work from home if it suited them better. Or maybe if an employee has a son or daughter with a disability and they need to attend a parent-teacher conference and a daycare is unavailable. Individuals with disabilities can be tremendous assets to the workplace and can play a role in helping businesses grow and remain competitive.
    Jane Kallinger, Sewing From Home

  6. Be intentional in your hiring
    One of the best initiatives that can be implemented in an effort to include people with disabilities is to start with the hiring part of the process. If there is not a real intentional effort from the hiring team to be inclusive from the very beginning, then any other effort will be dimmed by the lack of luster as new hires are brought on. It is not enough to simply post jobs to a disability board, as this requires little to no effort. It requires reaching out to local organizations (such as a local College/University or Non-Profit) that purposely help individuals that fall within this unique category. These organizations typically have wonderful programs in the community to reach out and work with these types of individuals, helping the organization get in touch with the right people to find success in their efforts. Organizations should listen intently to understand the needs of the individual to determine the best fit and then have options in place to support them wholeheartedly.
    Steven Smith, ApplicantPro

  7. Align your language with inclusiveness
    Calling some people 'normal' while referring to others as 'people who suffer from X' clearly shows a distinction in attitude. Communication is the backbone of inclusive organizations. This is about how people talk (or type) to each other, but also about your company website and your job ads. And it's not only about the terms you use but also the mediums. For example, adding captions and alt text to videos can make them accessible to a wider public. To drive change, conduct in-company training and usability studies.
    Georgi Todorov, ThriveMyWay

  8. Assimilate assistive technologies into the workplace
    Disability is just a feature. It can happen to any of us, whether inborn, due to old age, illness or an accident. Being more and more aware that diversity is an asset, companies should build inclusive environments. Improving workplace infrastructure is a great starting point. Investment in assistive technologies has the power to make the workplace more friendly and better accessible for the disabled. Those technologies include, for example: screen-reading software, closed captioning, voice recognition, screen enlargement applications, enlarged keyboards, and more.
    Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume

  9. Partner with organizations that empower disability
    You can work with organizations that empower people with disabilities. Doing this allows you to witness best practices to create a disability-inclusive culture in your company. By partnering with the right organizations, you'll have the opportunity to talk to the experts and ask for their advice. You can also invite one of these experts to your company events and have them speak on topics related to disability. This move can positively impact your employees as it reveals your genuine effort to make the workplace suitable for everyone.
    Lilia Tovbin, BigMailer.io

  10. Train and educate all staff
    Conduct inclusivity training and inform all staff of ADA guidelines. With thorough training programs, employees can avoid discriminatory practices toward people with disabilities. Following ADA guidelines keeps a company from experiencing legal backlash and creates an accessible, supportive environment for all employees. Cultivating an inclusive work environment starts with education.
    Ankur Goyal, Coterie

Learn more at Texthelp's Festival of Workplace Inclusion

Festival of Workplace Inclusion. 2th May 2022. 9am-5pm BST. Free virtual event.

On 26th May we’ll be exploring how to create a better working world for those of us who think, work & learn differently. Our free online festival will feature diversity & inclusion experts and those with lived experiences of neurodiversity and disability. Join us & gain insights from organisations including Auticon, Rolls Royce, DIAL Global, Barclays, EY, Business Disability Forum, Lexxic, Neurodiversity in business, and more.

With 26 speakers coming together to share their personal and professional insights, it’s set to be a day full of enlightenment for the future of disability inclusion in the workplace. If you’re interested in the event, you can register now for free.

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