Disability Inclusion & the Bottom Line
Unemployment among the world’s 386 million disabled people of working age is far higher than for working-age individuals. Although companies are striving to create more inclusive environments, the number of employed people with disability is still lagging behind when compared to the rate of employment in the general population, especially in developing countries where individuals with disabilities may have up to 80% higher unemployment rates as estimated by the United Nations.
A common concern of private companies when addressing disability in the workplace is the cost factor of accommodating disabilities. However, reports like a DePaul University study on this topic point towards a minimal initial cost compared to the various benefits. Incorporating disability in diversity and inclusion practices has been shown to positively impact the companies’ bottom line. Recruiting and retaining the best talent regardless of disability is crucially important in times of demand for a skilled and talented workforce. Through successful disability inclusion strategies, companies can broaden their supplier base and increase their share in new markets.
Additional benefits of a disability inclusion strategy:
- Low absenteeism rates and long tenures among employees with disabilities
- Access to a broader talent pool with a diverse range of skills and valuable new perspectives
- Retention: Reducing existing employees’ fears that a developed or acquired disability will make them unsuitable for work
- Innovative product development: Understanding the needs of people with disability as a service provider, enhanced use of technology
- Improved customer service: Enhanced service due to an increased understanding of how to communicate with the disabled customer community
- Brand reputation: According to a UMASS survey: 92% of U.S. Americans view companies with disability recruitment strategies as favorable
Aperian Global’s Managing Director of Customized Learning Solutions, Simone-Eva Redrupp, has a recent example of how awareness and slight changes to your communication can create an inclusive environment. In one of her past training sessions, a training participant informed her that he was blind. She adapted her facilitation style to ensure he was included in all parts of the training.
She describes her approach: “I found myself making the implicit much more explicit during this training. I trained in a descriptive fashion, almost exactly as I would do in a virtual training set up. I would, for example, say while I was drawing: ‘So if I draw this dimension on the board and name each extreme Mexico and Taiwan, where do you think you would fall?’ I also reminded myself to speak a lot more in metaphors and images to allow the participant to vividly imagine and relate to the theories I was describing. Through this participants’ unique perspective and contributions, everyone walked away with a practical example of how inclusion can look like in day-to-day work reality.”
If your team or organization is in need of more inclusive strategies to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, find out more about our Diversity & Inclusion programs.
1. United Nations: World Population Prospect, 1999