Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are more than policies, programs, or headcounts. Equitable employers outpace their competitors by respecting the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of all their team members. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn their employees’ deeper trust and more commitment.
Expressing a commitment to inclusion is a key first step in fostering an inclusive workplace culture.
- Develop and communicate policy statements and other illustrations of the company’s commitment to inclusion of workers with disabilities. For example, “Business is becoming increasingly global. As [COMPANY NAME] continues to expand, our differences—from our culture and work habits, communication style, and personal preferences—are becoming even more essential to our business strategy. We are working hard to create an environment in which all employees are valued and respected, including those with disabilities.”
- Establish an enterprise-wide team consisting of executives, managers, and employees with disabilities to support and advance the recruiting, hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities. This team may also function as a disability-focused employee resource group (ERG) or affinity group.
- Make (and publicize) the “business case” for hiring people with disabilities. For example, framing the issue in communication with managers, leadership, etc., in terms of return on investment and direct and indirect benefits to the company and its employees, such as higher productivity, lower absenteeism and turnover, and increased employee morale.
- Include disability as part of all of the company’s diversity policies and activities. This includes using the words “disability” and “people with disabilities” in statements defining the company’s diversity policies, inviting disability organizations and people with disabilities to the company’s diversity events, and recognizing that people with disabilities are part of the company’s other diverse communities (including racial and ethnic minorities, veterans and the LGBTQ+ community).
- Affirm in policy statements the company’s commitment to equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities and taking affirmative steps to recruit, hire, retain and advance workers with disabilities at all levels.
- Encourage employees with disabilities, and their coworkers and managers, to identify barriers and individual and systemic concerns without fear of retribution, and offer mechanisms to allow them to provide this information anonymously or confidentially.
- Establish a universal policy offering workplace flexibility and accommodations for all applicants and employees, with and without disabilities, including the use of telework options if appropriate.