When you are at the beginning stages of a potentially brilliant and lucrative business idea, efforts are centered around finding ways to make sure your concept succeeds. Among the work involved in this is looking for the best and brightest candidates to join your team and help the business grow.
One concern that comes up in the hiring process is the often unintentional exclusion of people with disabilities. Recruitment usually only caters to individuals with no disabilities, which contributes to lower employment rates for PWDs.
As you pursue your business concept, guide yourself to the path of success by building an inclusive culture from the get-go. Create policies and practices that offer equal opportunities for everyone, from your recruitment process to your office setup.
Initial Steps to Take for a PWD-friendly Office
Learning to be an inclusive workplace takes time and cooperation. These are the best starting points for you and your partners to make the best moves and have your business thrive.
1. Keep learning about disabilities
The first step is pretty simple. Whether your initial team has PWDs represented or not, it is important to take the initiative and learn more about disabilities and how people are affected by them.
Something to understand is that disabilities are actually much more common than you may think. The CDC reports that one in four adults in the United States are living with a disability, which means inclusive policies are an urgent need for every workplace.
Initial education on disabilities is completely free, too. There are trustworthy sources online that explain how various disabilities manifest in people, allowing you to be more empathetic towards PWDs and the challenges they face.
2. Get to know what services you will have to invest in
You then have to consider what your usual business operations will be. This helps you anticipate the services that you will need to make applying and working easier for people with disabilities.
If you plan to have a physical office, one obvious service you need is equipment to make navigation easier for those with physical disabilities. Look among various suppliers of mobility and ambulation equipment ahead of time. This allows you to canvass and find manufacturers with the best value for money.
3. Pay attention to the digital aspects of your business
It is safe to say that the online space is one of your clients’ and potential employees’ first point of contact with your business. Your website, recruitment interface, and customer service will say a lot about how PWD-friendly your business is. Mind the appearance, layout, and even the language of your online pages.
For your website, follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to make your website accessible for PWDs. These guidelines tell you about proper text, colors, pictures, sound effects, and more to use. They also give web developers a guide when making the website code.
4. Approach PWD associations to check for blind spots
You cannot be sure about how effective the measures you have taken are unless you have concerned parties evaluate it for you. One such organization you can approach is the American Association of People with Disabilities and their partner Disability IN. They work together to assess the inclusivity of workplaces.
They have a Disability Equality Index or DEI that measures how friendly to PWDs a business’s policies and practices are. Once assessed, a company receives a score on a scale of zero to 100. Those who score 80 and above are considered some of the best places to work for those with disabilities.
5. Hold sensitivity workshops for employees
When you want to build an inclusive workplace, you should not just be thinking about people with disabilities. This means having sensitivity towards employees regardless of their race, social and financial background, and beliefs.
But here’s the thing: no one comes into an organization perfectly understanding what it means to be sensitive to coworkers. This is why sensitivity training is essential. It allows employees to recognize negative behaviors and attitudes that they must change so as not to hurt other people in the team.
Sensitivity workshops are an excellent opportunity for you and your team to learn to be kinder and more empathetic towards each other, especially coworkers with disabilities.
Discuss with Your Current Team
You need to keep the conversation going with your employees. The above steps are necessary, but they should also serve to allow more discussion among teammates on how you can better address each other and work together. Remember that workplace inclusivity is a team effort and one that you can achieve with everyone’s cooperation.