The Benefits of Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

There are so many benefits of disability inclusion in the workplace.  Perhaps the biggest one is that it answers many of the unanswered questions:

  • How to encourage more disabled people to disclose their disability
  • How to start developing disability inclusion within the business
  • How to ensure disabled people receive the support they need at the right time
  • How to encourage more disabled people to apply for roles

The answer to all of these is that by influencing disability inclusion in your workplace, disabled people feel psychologically safe to articulate what they need to succeed in the workplace.  People are more likely to share what is happening for them and open up about the support they need.  By witnessing an organisation that is pro actively supporting a disabled person, other people will feel confident to come forward and to share their needs.

Not all disability is visible

Many a time people associate disability with what they can see: what is tangible. However, as we know a lot of disability is hidden or invisible.  For disabled people who have hidden disabilities, they can choose to not disclose a disability to a potential or current employer.  This can be for many reasons but a few of the most common are:

  • An individual does not identify themselves as having a disability
  • A fear of repercussions
  • An individual may see it as a pointless exercise

An individual may have certain support needs that they require to support them to engage and participate.  However, this does not necessarily mean that they will identify this with having a disability.  This may be because they do not see it as something that "disables" them and therefore, they would never consider mentioning it.

The support needs may be considered as intangible and therefore in consequential. For example, somebody with a fatigue related impairment may tire quickly but do not see this as something that somebody else can support them with. Therefore, they won't mention it.

Disability discrimination in the workplace

Another benefit of developing and disability inclusive workplace is an opportunity to stamp out disability discrimination within your organisation.

Fear of repercussions resulting in discrimination for disabled people is real.  A disabled employee may have come from a previous organisation where they have been discriminated against.  People may have friends and family members who have experienced discrimination in their own workplace.

If this is an experience held by a disabled employee with a hidden disability, they may be less likely to disclose due to a very real possibility that they could be discriminated against.

Disability discrimination is legislation covered under the Equality Act 2010.  It often results from lack of understanding, awareness,  resources and support.  When an organisation proactively works towards developing a culture that is inclusive of disabled people, it is constantly working to up-skill employees to feel confident and supported to understand how to implement the appropriate support for every employee.

Types of Disability Discrimination

Direct:  A person being treated differently or worse than another employee due to a disability

Indirect:  A person being disadvantaged due to a change in policy, practice or process

Harassment:  Intentionally treating somebody in a way that makes them feel humiliated

Victimisation:  A person is treated unfairly due to an action they took. This could be an action taken on behalf of themselves or somebody else

Developing disability inclusive cultures through disability awareness in the workplace

When you develop a proactive disability inclusive culture, your organisation can encourage disabled people and non-disabled people to feel confident and a sense of belonging in your workplace.  This happens when you develop awareness of the barriers and therefore, strategies to mitigate these barriers. In turn, employees feel supported to confidently implement these strategies.
Collaboration and engagement
Open dialogue
Disclosure
Allyship
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