A disability can come in various forms, whether it’s physical, sensory or maybe intellectual. It’s important to recognise these differences when adopting changes in your organisation to become more inclusive. This is something that can help every candidate or employee within your organisation feel like they are being seen and heard and that you are taking extra measures to show you care about their needs.
According to GOV.uk, the disability employment rate has increased from 43.6% in 2013 to 52.7% in 2021. There are four major components of change in the number of disabled people in employment:
- Overall working-age population
- Disability prevalence
- Non-disabled employment rate
- The employment rate gap
How you can adapt to becoming fully inclusive
If you are unsure how to adapt and create a more accessible environment or inclusive culture, do some research online or start the conversation with current employees who face this first hand, to discover ways to improve.
Having the resources in place now will create a smoother process for you and your employees, but also for future candidates, making any further processes of onboarding for a candidate with disabilities easier and more comfortable. Think about the following:
- Is your office disability-friendly physically? (Is there a ramp alternative to stairs to access the building, lift etc.)
- What does your hiring process look like?
- What do you do to support current disabled employees?
- Is your promotional material disability-friendly? (Your website, videos, job adverts etc.)
What you can do to make sure those with a disability feel comfortable
Remember that communication is always key. Approaching someone with a disability early on for a confidential chat on how their disability effects them in the workplace, can allow them feel reassured that they are able to be their authentic self in the workplace.
According to research by Scope, 1 in 3 people perceive disabled people as being less productive than non-disabled people. Try to ensure you and your workforce understand that candidates with disabilities are capable of a lot of the same things as everyone else, given the right adaptations, but also be conscious of making allowances when needed.
Keeping the equality understanding in mind, think about how you can go the extra mile to champion your employees who have a disability, whilst avoiding the perception of promoting to gain diversity points for your company. There has been a huge increase on open discussions around diversity and inclusion over the last few years in the workplace. We see a lot of companies sharing statistics on what proportion of employees with different backgrounds that they’d love to see joining them, but rather than focusing on disabled people as a statistic, focusing on the people. If you don’t have one already, consider creating a ‘Meet the Team’ page on your website, with photos, names and job titles, and allow them to type in their own words a little about themselves!
For disabled candidates applying for roles within your company, being able to see positive disability representation in your current workforce can be inspiring and welcoming. However, again try to be conscious of the fact that some disabled employees may not feel comfortable having images of themselves broadcasted or talking publicly about their disability, so always ensure you have the employees’ permission to feature them.
Is your culture inclusive to those who have a disability?
We all may have worked somewhere at some point in our lives where co-workers have formed cliques or aren’t as friendly as they portrayed themselves online. Make sure that everything you promote about inclusivity isn’t just a face to make your company look good, but is actually how you act day-to-day. Ableism is still very much a struggle disabled people face regularly, but it isn’t always as direct as you may believe.
In a report from 2021 by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) – they found that prevalent ableism across the world is excluding a significant number of people from the workplace. Someone with a disability shouldn’t be seen as anything other than another human being to you and your employees. You must ensure you take care with not only your hiring process, but your culture.
Think about work events, are you checking for disabled access for certain employees and picking an activity you know everyone can get involved in? Are you chatting with them as much as you do everyone else? Are you inviting them to drinks after work with everyone else or to sit with you at lunch? It’s not just about the content you post online or on your website, but about how the individual feels and if they feel like you are inclusive to them.
Disability Awareness Day
On the 17th July 2022, the 31st Annual Disability Awareness Day takes place at Walton Hall and Garden – click here to discover more.