Recruit for Diversity
Whether a one man band or a business employing millions, it is imperative that there is a culture that builds on the strengths of employees. As is in all organisations a diverse workforce is the best and only way to achieve this for certain. This is because a diverse workforce can utilise the experiences of everyone from a multitude of backgrounds to create an environment that works for everyone.
One such diverse group are disabled people. Over the years of my career, I have realised that businesses generally find it easier to be inclusive of ethnic groups, gender groups and LGBTQ but they struggle to be inclusive of disability. Perhaps because there are a variety of needs relating to disabled people. Disabled people are never a one size fits all because every person and every impairment is unique. Disabled people cover a multitude of minority groups and therefore a multitude of backgrounds and cultures. This can make it challenging for businesses to think about what needs to be done in terms of strategy to be inclusive.
So, how do you make your business inclusive of the fastest growing minority? Quite simply, it all comes down to attitude. I talked in an earlier blog about a report that found that 49% of disabled people still feel marginalised in society. This is despite the fact that we are moving towards a more accessible culture where disabled people can enter and move around buildings, use public transport and live and work independently.
The biggest stumbling block for many people when being inclusive of disability is attitude. Not necessarily because there is a bad attitude but because there isn’t enough knowledge or understanding. A business’ responsibility here is to ensure that every employee representing that business upholds the correct values. This must permeate through every interaction; from the first engagement at the recruitment stage to the last interaction when an employee leaves the business.
If a business has an employee handbook, a culture of inclusion should be prominent throughout the document. When having supervision meetings, specific conversations should be held around how that employee is working towards the values of inclusion. Every board strategy meeting should have a permanent agenda item relating to how the business is working towards inclusion for disabled people and so on.
If this is successfully implemented, every disabled employee should feel confident, valued and welcome within the business. However, we should not rest on our laurels and these principles should be under permanent scrutiny. This can be tested in many ways:
- Employee surveys
- Employee and customer feedback
- General conversation and communication
Esi (pronounced SE) set up Celebrating Disability in 2017; offering training, consulting and auditing to support businesses attract, engage and retain disabled people. Having the opportunity to support businesses to see the wealth of benefits that disabled people can bring to business, either as customers or employees is a privilege. She is passionate about disability equality and inclusion and loves nothing more than that “Ah ha” moment with a client when they see what disability equality and inclusion can do for them.
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