Having a disability-inclusive workplace means hiring people with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. It gives people with disabilities a chance to work, get paid fairly, and also grow in their careers, just like everyone else.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 1.3 billion people worldwide have a major disability.
But, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports:
- In 2022, 30 percent of disabled workers had part-time jobs, while only 16 percent of non-disabled workers did the same.
- Across all age groups, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than those with no disability
- The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was about 2X as high as the rate for persons without a disability
Not hiring people with disabilities can make your business less productive. Also, inclusive hiring can help boost employee morale. This might also affect how much money you make in the end.
An Accenture study revealed that disability-inclusive organizations had 28% higher revenue and 30% more profit margins than their peers.
Worse, discriminating against them can result in expensive lawsuits (Sessions & Kimball reported $110 million in monetary benefits awarded in the US for discrimination claims).
What is a disability?
A disability means some people have a harder time doing things because their body or mind works differently. Disabilities can be short-term or long-term, and they can be seen or not seen. So, they might happen because of an illness, accident, or how someone is born.
Disabilities can also be different for each person, so they might need different kinds of help. For example, someone might need a wheelchair to move around, or they might need special tools to read or hear. Thus, you need to understand that people with disabilities can live happy lives if they get the right support and tools to help them.
How do you handle disability in the workplace?
You might not realize it, but you could be treating employees with disabilities unfairly. Sometimes, not knowing about certain needs can lead to treating employees with disabilities unfairly. Things like offices that are hard to use or not understanding what someone needs can make it difficult.
So, employers need to learn, make sure their staff knows, and also make changes so everyone is treated the same and has the same chances at work. When workplaces understand and help everyone, they become better and more supportive for all employees, no matter their abilities.
You can change by implementing these 7 strategies to build a disability-inclusive workplace:
1. Conduct ADA training for a disability-inclusive workplace
The first thing to do to stop unfair treatment of people with disabilities is to help people understand. ADA training helps make sure everyone has the same chances at work and avoids legal problems. Most importantly, it helps people at work to be nicer and more understanding to their colleagues with disabilities.
ADA National Network offers an Employment Requirements online course that educates HR professionals about pre-employment requirements. It also helps with the identification and provision of reasonable accommodations and needs about medical data and confidentiality. ADA also helps with troubleshooting employee performance, safety concerns, and compliance.
What is ADA?
ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA is a law in the United States that helps people with disabilities. It makes sure they are treated fairly and can use public places, get jobs, and also use government services just like everyone else. So, the law stops unfair treatment and makes sure everyone has the same chances.
2. Write job descriptions that encourage a disability-inclusive workplace
To improve job or candidate fit, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion advises recruiters to identify the specific activities for the advertised role. It should specify:
- Things the person will do if they get the job: travel or drive, talk or communicate with others.
- Things you need to do for the job: lift, climb, or run.
- The work environment: the air and light quality in the work area to comply with OSHA
- Your work hours and where you work: you must tell them when and where they will need to work so they know what to expect.
This Warehouse Associate role by Mondelez International specified that the chosen applicant will work in the warehouse and will perform bending, lifting, and the ability to lift at least 50 lbs or 25 kg.
You could also consider the DEI statement at the end of your job ad to encourage people with disabilities to apply. Take a look at Apple’s Dev Ops job ad:
Apple is an equal-opportunity employer that is committed to inclusion and diversity.
We also take affirmative action to offer employment and advancement opportunities to all applicants.
Apple is committed to working with and providing reasonable accommodation to applicants with physical and mental disabilities.
Why it is important to include a DEI statement in a job ad
Including a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) statement in a job ad is important for many reasons:
- Welcome Everyone: It tells all people that they are welcome to apply, no matter who they are.
- Invite Different People: It asks people from all backgrounds to apply, so the company can get many different kinds of workers.
- Make the Company Look Good: It shows that the company is nice and fair, which is good for how people think about the company.
- Give Fair Chances: It shows that everyone has a fair chance to get the job, no matter how they look or who they are.
- Make Employees Happy: It makes current workers happy to know the company is fair and nice to everyone.
- Follow Company Rules: It shows that the company is doing what it believes in, which is treating everyone the same.
- Follow the Law: In some places, it’s the law to give everyone a fair chance, so the statement helps the company follow the rules.
Read this blog for more job description tips to recruit people with disabilities.
3. Implement blind hiring techniques
What is blind hiring?
Blind hiring is when companies don’t know certain things about job applicants, like their names or where they’re from. This helps to be fair when picking people for a job. So, employers focus only on skills and experience, not personal details, to make sure everyone has an equal chance. They also do things like taking names off resumes to make the hiring process fair.
Blind hiring helps stop unfair choices, especially when hiring people with disabilities. Special software hides some details about candidates, so decisions are based on skills, not personal information.
You can also do blind interviews using messages, chatbots, or emails where candidates’ names are hidden. Also, use tests to check their skills fairly.
If the person with a disability does well in the first round, they are likely right for the job. So, the recruiter should tell the hiring manager about the disability and how the person did in the tests. This helps the manager decide who to hire.
4. Ensure you have a safe and comfortable workspace
Employees with disabilities must have an accessible work environment where they can move freely and safely within the office premises:
- Wide entrances and doorways
- Ramps and dedicated disabled parking bays
- Grab bars and handrails
- Adjustable desk and chairs
- Accessible toilets and bathrooms
- Adequate lighting
- Adequate spacing between workstations
Employees with disabilities might also need special tools to do their work well. These tools include things like computers with big screens and special keyboards, as well as devices to help with seeing or hearing. For example, there are machines that read the screen out loud or tools that let you talk to the computer to control it.
5. Offer flexible working arrangements for a disability-inclusive workplace
If changing the office for disabled workers is hard or costly, think about letting them work from home or have flexible hours. This helps them a lot. So, they can work at their own speed and use their own tools. Thus, this also makes it easier for them to do their jobs and do it well.
Letting disabled workers work from home or choose their hours helps them a lot. It makes work more comfortable for them. This also makes them feel more confident and happy, and they do a better job. So, doing this shows that the company cares about different needs and is a good place to work.
6. Provide inclusive benefits
Creating and delivering employee policies and benefits that support disabled workers is critical. Start by talking to job applicants and employees about what they need. Include their needs in the benefits you offer. So, this could mean things like therapy, special devices, or help for mental health. Doing this shows you care about your employees and that you also want to help them stay healthy and feel included.
It’s really important to know what disabled workers need and make the workplace supportive for them. Companies should talk to their employees and applicants, so they can make rules that truly help. For example, they can provide counseling, special tools, or hotlines for mental health support. When companies do this, it also shows they care about their employees and want everyone to feel like they belong and are included.
7. Establish disability ERG
Establishing ERGs for disabled employees can help keep the knowledge from ADA training going. Leaders of these groups can talk to top bosses and get support for activities that raise awareness about disabilities, help disabled employees, and also make the workplace more accessible. So, they can also work with other groups and parts of the company to share good ideas and solve problems related to disabilities at work.
What are the benefits of having good disability inclusion policies?
Having good policies that include people with disabilities in the workplace is really helpful. It makes the workplace a happy and supportive space where everyone can work well together. This kind of environment encourages employees to come up with creative solutions and work better. It also keeps the company following the rules and makes more people want to buy from or work with the company. Plus, when people feel valued, they stay in their jobs longer. In the end, these policies make society better by creating a friendly and inclusive community for everyone.
Why I wrote this:
Including and hiring people with disabilities is a big part of making sure everyone is treated fairly. Sometimes, people have unfair thoughts about those with disabilities without even realizing it. By understanding these biases, we can make our workplaces better for everyone.
We can also review how things are done and come up with new ideas to make sure people with disabilities are treated just like everyone else. So, it’s about being aware, learning, and making positive changes so that nobody feels left out or treated differently because of their abilities.
At Ongig, we support DEI by helping recruiters write job descriptions encouraging talented people with disabilities to apply. Contact us for a demo.
- Disability – World Health Organization
- Person with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics 2022 – US Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Encouraging Applicants with Disabilities: Job Descriptions and Announcements (Checklist) – EARN (Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion)
- ADA Title I: Employment Requirements – ADA National Network
- Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage – Accenture
- Disability Discrimination Statistics [2010-2020] – Sessions and Kimball