In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on social issues of diversity and inclusion, particularly in the workplace. This is especially apparent when discussing equality across boundaries of gender, race, and sexual orientation. However, disability is often neglected.
To understand disability, it’s important to first define it. According to the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a person with a disability is defined as a person who has “long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
The World Bank estimates that around 15% of the population—more than one billion people worldwide—live with a disability. However, only a small percentage of businesses consider disability in their diversity initiatives. To be truly inclusive, businesses can increase their efforts in showing that they truly see the value in everyone.
One of the best ways to do so is to be open to more potential employees. This is especially apparent in the recruitment process, where potential employees with disabilities may be discouraged to even apply due to generic job descriptions—which may list physical tasks such as driving, typing, lifting, or the ability to sit for long periods of time. To be more inclusive, companies should be more considerate and should not include these generic descriptions, especially if the role does not actually demand them.
Another great way to increase diversity includes creating more accessible workplaces. For instance, workplaces should include both stairs and elevators. Assistive technology should also be readily available. People with disabilities need to feel included and comfortable, and the office design needs to take all of this into consideration.
There are many ways for a workplace to broaden accessibility and inclusivity. In doing so, businesses become a pillar of strength in the community by helping to prioritize diversity across the spectrum.