Everything you Know about Disability Inclusion is WRONG
Summary of Event
Everything You Know about Disability Inclusion is WRONG! In this hour long presentation, Disability:IN Central Texas brings together a panel of leading disability inclusion experts who will share their hot takes on what companies, leaders, HR, and even your well-meaning coworkers get wrong about disability hiring and inclusion. We debunk myths, share our real world stories, and get real about disability etiquette.
Everything you know about disability inclusion is WRONG…well maybe not everything, but we all have something we can learn!
Key Points from the Webinar
A big thanks to Kate, Dylan, and Chris for their insights into this topic. Feel free to connect with any of these panelists regarding questions you have about disability inclusion. This panel was moderated by Myles Wallace.
If you want to hire people with disabilities, Peak Performers is happy to help. If your business is looking for a peer group to support you as you work towards disability inclusion, consider becoming a member of Disability:IN at the local or national level.
We encourage you to watch the whole video. Below is the executive summary of key questions and answers from the panelists.
What steps are companies taking to be more inclusive, where are they at, and what do they still need to do?
The pandemic has made many companies more aware of the health needs of their employees and made them more likely to grant accommodations.
Companies still have an opportunity to invest more in disability hiring and retention similar to how they do with other DE&I programs and to reinforce learning so that disability inclusion is something that stays top of mind even as the pandemic fades away.
COVID has forced many companies to invest and take seriously work from home as an accommodations. Digital collaboration tools have made it easier for the disabled community to find jobs and participate in the workforce. This has been a boon for many workers.
Companies still have an opportunity to be more welcoming to employees and explicitly state that accommodations are available to employer upon request.
Companies need to be aware as they bring companies back into the workplace that many people have developed disabilities during the pandemic. Companies have an opportunity to step-up and be more welcoming to all people with disabilities.
During the talent acquisition phase, companies can be doing more to build a welcoming space where all feel invited to apply. We should also be moving towards a point where accommodations are not a big deal and a quick conversation.
How have well-meaning coworkers and bosses accidentally insulted or been non-inclusive. What could they have done differently in those situations?
Sometimes coworkers feel like they need to walk on eggshells around me and don’t know how to include me. So instead they just didn’t include me.
If you’re on the fence about how to include somebody in your workspace, just ask. Use an open-ended question and allow the person with a disability to specify what they’re comfortable with.
It’s important to hold your workers with disabilities to the same standards as people without. We don’t need to be babied, and we take great pride in our work.
Also, don’t come down hard on employees, disabled or not. Instead have constructive coaching conversations with the goal of providing feedback and helping people improve.
If you’re working around people with disabilities, you’re probably going to say or do the wrong thing. Listen for feedback, own your mistakes, and seek to do better next time.
Don’t rush to assumptions. We need to work towards intentional inclusion and express an earnest curiosity about people with disabilities. You have a lot to learn from their lived experience
Also, as a person with a disability, don’t be afraid to speak up and express what you need to be successful.
What does disability etiquette mean to you?
Treat people with disabilities like anyone else. Treat them with respect. Just try to be a good human.
Also, ask questions, be curious, but don’t be condescending.
Be intentionally inclusive. Be accommodating, accepting, and acknowledge the people with disabilities around you. This doesn’t need to be complicated.
It sometimes take a moment of confrontation for us to do better. Don’t shut down when you are confronted. It’s a work in progress for all of us.
Furthermore, many of us have different experiences within our own disability culture. Don’t make assumptions about that person’s experience or preference. You’ll have to engage with each person with a disability in a unique way.
What is the difference between bias and discrimination?
Bias is how we interpret situations without conscious thought. Discrimination is more of an action and intentionally preventing someone access to something.
Bias often comes down to a perception. When you act on that perception and intentionally withhold resources that we get into discrimination. Also, when you intentionally create barriers towards someone because of your perception of them, that’s when we get into the area of discrimination.
I think it’s important to point out where biases come from: stereotypes. Stereotypes fuel our biases and then our biases become beliefs and this ultimately leads us to taking actions against people and discriminating.
We also have to quit using labels. Labels belong on soup cans not on me. Furthermore, we have to stop putting labels on other people as a way to empower ourselves by putting others down.
What interesting conversations have you had with a professional with a disability on your podcast?
I talked with someone from Red Cross and how he’s seen Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) positively impact his organization. The Red Cross wanted to be more inclusive towards people with disabilities but failed to include that in any of their messaging. We can all do a better job at broadcasting individually and as organizations that we’re disability-inclusive.
What training were you exposed to within organizational development and what would you have liked to see around disability inclusion in these trainings?
A lot of people accidentally fall into Human Resources. This leads to many issues in the workplace with people lacking formalized training. We need to spend more focus and training on people who “fall into” human resource roles.
At the local, state, and federal level and what would you hope to change regarding disability inclusion?
At the federal level, I would work to permanently remove the sub-minimum wage.
On the state level, we’re missing access to community-base options. We have people with disabilities waiting too long to get access to services.
At a local level, it’s important to ensure that people with disabilities have a seat at the table and representation in local government.
Are you ready to be more disability inclusive?
Here are two quick ideas: