HOW TO CREATE A MORE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
Here’s what I reckon we need to do more of as professionals to create more inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities.
- Encourage people to talk about their disability and celebrate diversity.
- Ensure that you have facilities (buildings, meeting rooms and toilets) that accommodate for people with disabilities and only use conference centres that provide such services. Always make sure you check for steps and disabled-access toilets before any meetings to avoid embarrassment (or justified anger). As consumers we can talk with our feet and congratulate with our purse.
- Use the right language, it does matter. I’m a person with a disability, NOT a disabled person. Big difference. (I also now like the term “differently abled”)
- Hire people with disabilities. Make proper accommodations and reasonable adjustments in your workplace. Be loud and proud about inclusion and equal employment opportunity policies. Don’t just give them lip-service. Get on the front foot and be proactive when it comes to helping people with a disability in your workplace. You’ll be rewarded with a greater pool of employees in the current skills shortage.
- Be kind. One day you might require assistance too. If you see someone struggling, be brave and speak to them. Most employers now offer Employee Assistance Programs and free counselling. If you work with someone in a wheelchair, think about what life is like in their shoes. It might be easier for you to get them their afternoon cup of tea if you’re around. It’s the simple gestures that will help you break down the walls.
If we demand better access, greater inclusion and minimise the prejudice, then people like me might come out of the disability closet a lot earlier.
The more we talk about it and walk that talk, the more people will understand that we’re all deserving of equal opportunities and that you can be successful (in the law or any profession) and have a disability.
Do you suffer with a disability? How do you manage it in your daily work life?
Do you help someone at work who has a disability?
Is your office disabled-access friendly?
By: M. Mobin Uddin (Chief Editor)