Specially abled people makeup to 26 million of the country’s total population and probably even more if the disability is not diagnosed or disclosed. With the pandemic on an all-time low since its inception and offices opening up across the country, there are many reasons why diversity and inclusion should be fundamental parts of any organization.
In the past, there has been confusion about the differences between ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’, and they are indeed very different and require contrasting approaches. Inclusion, especially inclusivity of differently-abled people is slowly but effectively being taken into consideration while framing HR policies as a de facto. Whilst there are signs of improvement year-on-year, there is still some way to go before we achieve total differently-abled inclusion in the workplace. Approach to diversity and inclusion should be rooted in the belief that the workplace should be an environment in which employees feel equally valued, engaged and supported in all areas, leading to ultimately benefiting both the organisation and the people who work there.
Not just big conglomerates but this should be the responsibility of all the companies towards affirmative action for differently abled people. An all inclusive and friendly workplace is of utmost importance for the employees with special needs so that it helps empower them to remain engaged, effective and productive and ensures that they feel valued.
Reports such as, the 2019 McKinsey ‘Diversity wins: how inclusion matters’ observed that diverse teams are more imaginative, useful and beneficial, however that can happen when the right comprehensive climate is made. Putting resources into inclusion, equality and diversity as a part of a more extensive corporate methodology, instead of a one-time intervention, will develop a psychologically safe workspace.
Instilling a hybrid work-culture
In today's age and time, it's an only remote workplace that engages differently-abled employees and permits opportunities that other more corporate organizations should also follow as practice. As an inclusive workplace, we should eliminate any significant barriers that the employees can face in attending physical office to promote better growth and development. This can be an opportunity to generate employment for those who may find it difficult to use mass public transport or private transport by giving them options of working from home.
Cohesive office environment
More focus should be on creating an atmosphere of inclusion and competitiveness to ensure that this special workforce does not feel being given a sympathetic treat, which in any way could demotivate them. There cannot be more emphasis on creating an atmosphere of mutual respect as social conditioning will always be a challenge to remove the bias mindset of certain employees. The leadership team should be accessible and available to staff to share feedback and discuss concerns, allowing them to offer support and transparency. When your workforce is diverse, particularly in leadership roles, these individuals act as role models and set an inspirational example to others. Studies show that companies with a diverse and inclusive workforce are more successful and profitable.
Counseling and education
The existing employees should be counselled to remove this bias via the help of special coaches and also encourage them to work as a team with each other. Employees can also act as mentors and buddies in helping differently abled colleagues to make their in-office experience smooth. Special sign-language trainings should be conducted for people to remove the language barrier and aiding better communication
Rewards and recognition
On special occasions and events, the employer can make arrangements to ensure the physical presence of such employees so that they feel valued and appreciated. They should be rewarded for their achievement and not sympathised for their shortcomings.
Giving beneficial business and permitting specially abled individuals to be financially independent is the need of the hour for all organisations. In any company, pursuing such ideals is admirable. These opportunities assist people with disabilities in becoming effective members of society and organisations. It gives people a sense of self-worth and confidence, which could lead to more creativity and invention for the company's benefit. Hidden abilities will emerge, perhaps saving the company’s money and providing them with a competitive advantage. Organisations must increase their efforts in this area by making their workplace truly diverse and inclusive
Summing it up, differently-abled people - in the workplace or otherwise should not be treated differently. However, their concerns and needs should not be ignored, instead, an equitable work environment should be created that encompasses people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Requoting the Bard of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore here "The problem is not how to wipe out the differences but how to unite with the differences intact".