Disability is a skill, it’s an expertise, it’s a strength, and we are honestly all dying for talent within companies, so I think there’s a massive responsibility on employers to make sure all processes, soup to nuts, are accessible.
~Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft
While this was just one driving point from one of the disability leaders we gathered in our recent panel, Lay-Flurrie drives a point home that is consistent throughout the entire, hour-long webinar: people with disabilities bring unique experiences and values to the workplace that no one else can. The perspective of inclusion and accessibility is a lens that’s often taken for granted or simply overlooked with the non-disabled population. In this panel, you’ll discover:
- How to reframe and claim your disability as the asset it truly is (rather than trying to hide it) when applying for jobs
- Tactics for holding HR accountable during the interview process
- New perspectives from top disability leaders who have been in your shoes
- The primary actions that companies should take to support people with disabilities
Highlighting the unsung heroes of the workplace
While this conversation was put in place to spread awareness and support for people with disabilities in the workplace, we want to take a moment to note that there are many leaders and executives with disabilities in the world who have gone above and beyond responsibilities and broken the barriers by completing jobs that people didn’t think they could perform.
One of the challenges that we’re working to overcome at Inclusively includes improving equity in the workplace by giving people with disabilities the same shot at candidacy as anyone else. We realize that having a disability does not affect ambition – it affects opportunities.
Data surrounding disabilities in the workplace has been so protected as a way to give the disability community a “fair” shot, but that same system has stopped people with disabilities from getting ahead and receiving necessary support.
Shifting towards change in the workplace
The reality is that barriers to accessibility and inclusion mean that people with disabilities simply aren’t getting the same opportunities that others get —they’re getting screened out at every step of the process. The sooner the workplace understands this and makes changes, the faster roles will be filled with qualified candidates.
However, that’s not the only change that needs to be made. Post-pandemic and beyond, it’s necessary for companies to realize that intersectionality is not diversity. “Compounding oppression like racisim, ablism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia all affect people in different ways,” shared Rebecca Cokley, Director at Disability Justice Initiative. Truly understanding what disability is and what it really looks like is understanding that disability is not limited by race, gender, sexuality, or disability type.
Hiring people with disabilities is not a box to check; hiring without taking a holistic look at inclusion once new hires are in the company will not create the systemic change that companies need and employees deserve and demand. Retaining, promoting and providing professional development opportunities should all be on the table. There should always be pathways to moving up the ladder as a person with a disability.
Support is crucial
For both people with disabilities and the companies looking to be more inclusive, it’s important to seek support. Use your resources, rely on experts in the disability community, co-create, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more we learn from one another, the more accessible and inclusive we can make the workplace for all.