4 Workplace Changes To Empower Persons With Disabilities As Active Contributors, Not Just Beneficiaries

Workplaces have to go beyond looking at Persons with Disabilities as "beneficiaries" of policy change. The focus needs to be on empowering these employees to be active contributors to society.

December 3 was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. A day marked by the United Nations with a message to promote the well-being of all under this umbrella.

Repositioning persons with disabilities as active contributors in society

What also caught my attention was the message by the UN for this day. It was the fact that Persons with Disabilities do not have to be considered beneficiaries alone. They have to be identified as active contributors across social, economic, and political spheres of the society.

Taking a cue from this statement Workplaces must go beyond only creating policies that encourage inclusion and diversity.

My experience certifies that most of the policies end up being focused only on creating hiring strategies that provide a platform for hiring persons with disabilities. It has to go beyond if we as a society want to encourage and include their contributions.

Here are spheres that need some evolved thought and action from the perspective of decision-makers.

Infrastructural advancement

Whether it is workstations, restrooms, or the means of getting around the premises, organizations have to make infrastructural changes.

Let’s not term these as “adjustments” because these are necessities for an inclusive workplace.

For every employee, the workplace becomes a second home as they spend a minimum of 8 hours there every day. The onus is now on the employer if the feeling can be reciprocated, who can integrate supportive ergonomics, software, and emotional intelligence support at the workplace to make it inclusive.

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Workplace hygiene becomes the underlying factor in determining if the doors can be welcoming. We lay more emphasis on persons with disabilities in this context here, because their needs are different and more pronounced. An agile workplace not only provides physical comfort but also becomes a major motivational source. The outcome is a sense of belongingness that can translate into a longer association with the organization.

Identifying roles

Job roles define the academic and experience requirements lucidly. There has been an addition post-pandemic wherein the working mode is also defined.

What if the teams can take a step forward and define the physical and mental strain that the role will involve? It is all about the kind of experience an employer wishes to create for the employee. Along with mental and emotional readiness such clarity also presents transparency as a value for the organization.

Building empathy and perspective

A vital element in the process of inclusion is collective empathy which gradually flows into the organization’s ethos and leads to a state of evolved culture.

If we are looking at making inclusion a way of working and operating, it cannot be defined by single, one-time initiatives. The impact has to be widespread. I believe that if this can be achieved then we have played a major part in taking the change forward to society. We are creating empathetic and humane individuals who will carry forth the value to the fabric of their individual lives.

Transparency in the values behind such initiatives is essential to be understood across the organization. Involving employee representatives in building processes and creating readiness has to be an indispensable step. It has to be about embracing the differences and not putting them under a spotlight to create unease.

Initiating the ripple of culture change

The elements of organizational culture in my understanding consist of open Communication. Effective leadership, accessibility, and transparency are all an offshoot of this vital element.

If communication is done right, any form of culture change is possible. As discussed in the previous paragraphs, when all the above elements amalgamate, every change is welcome as it is easily understood and accepted. Only when questions are asked, answers will be found. What begins as an idea multiplies as a future goal both for the individual employees and the organization.

Workplaces are undergoing rapid transformation and adapting to the changed dynamic of the workforce. They are graduating from physically present employees to getting comfortable with virtual and hybrid work modes. Amidst the sea of changes, inclusion leads to the list of factors that demand focus. If organizations can sift through the conundrum of embracing differences and persons with disabilities, they are also moving towards widening the talent pool to take on multiple skill needs of the fast-changing scenario within this great nation as well as across the globe.

Image source: by AndreyPopov from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

Saravjot Hansrao

life has always been about waking up with a renewed passion each day. I owe my inner strength to blessings of the eternal truth God, my bringing up amidst real heroes of the Indian Army read more...

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