Adapting spaces and workplaces for people with disabilities helps promote greater integration – and generates a better, more comfortable working environment, Amphoux said.
“[People with disabilities] can also contribute important things in the world of work, as well as in other areas of life. It is important that we have equal opportunities through companies that welcome into their ranks people who can contribute and give competency value,” Amphoux said. “Exemplifying values of inclusion and diversity among its employees generates a high level of satisfaction among them, translating at the end of the day into productivity, positivity and empathy; [then] companies [can] help us to continue with our dreams, make us live in a better society and above all more inclusive and tolerant.”
When companies help us achieve our dreams, this has an impact in society in full making it better, more inclusive and tolerant, he said.
How can companies adapt their workplaces and workplace cultures?
Building a company workplace and culture that works for people with disabilities can be tough. In fact, you may not know how many people with disabilities actually work at your company. Two out of three people with disabilities have “hidden disabilities” like dyslexia.
Additionally, many workers feel they have to hide their disabilities, for fear of retaliation. Research shows that a quarter of people have hidden their disability from their HR departments.
“The simple reason as to why disabled people don’t disclose their disability is that we’re often afraid,” Cat Mitchell, a lecturer at University of Derby, UK, whose research focuses on the barriers disabled employees and jobseekers face, told the BBC. “We’re afraid that we’ll be treated differently, get fewer opportunities at work and that it will impact our chances of progressing, or even lead to us getting fired.”
Think about how much better that work environment would be if those people could be themselves.
“They’re probably putting on a solid front, but how amazing would it be if they could be themselves without trying to hide who they are?” Dubber said.
Here are some things companies can consider for people with disabilities, from people with disabilities working around the world:
- Strengthen your Diversity and Inclusion policies: Make sure your talent acquisition process and internal policies reflect your desires to hire and retain diverse workers. One way to help? Provide multiple opportunities and methods to apply and encourage people to ask if they need anything to make the process more accessible.
- Address internalised and unconscious biases: Sometimes, the only barriers people with disabilities face is an employer’s attitude towards them. People may have internalised and unconscious biases about people with disabilities; people with different disabilities may also have unconscious bias about other disabilities, too. But the reality is that “disabled people belong in workplaces, and we’re capable of doing the job,” Dubber said.
- Allow reasonable accommodations: Accommodating people with disabilities doesn’t just mean ramps and other physical changes mandated by law. Workers may need flexible working arrangements as well. “If a disabled person asks for accommodations to help do their job, it’s essential to listen and try to implement them; they’re not asking for special treatment. With the proper support, people will flourish in their role and be loyal to you, so it’s in your best interest as an employer, too,” Dubber said.
The power of inclusion
Creating a disability-friendly workplace, and a more inclusive workplace as a whole, is beneficial to everyone – not just those with a disability. By building a more accommodating workplace, you can make people with physical or mental disabilities more comfortable – and widen your search for top talent. People with different backgrounds, skills, and experiences can make a big difference to the productivity and creativity of your workforce. At the end of the day, you’ll be equipped to keep your whole workforce happy.