As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continues to take workplaces by storm we are starting to see a growing trend of adding another letter to the DEI acronym and that is A for accessibility.
Accessibility is an important part of the workplace and workforce and often one that sees a high unemployment number of those who are willing and wanting to work. In 2020, 17.9 percent of persons with disability were employed which is down from 19.3 percent in 2019. The total number of people with disabilities aged 16-64 in the United States is 33 million and of those only 18.5 million are employed (US Department of Labor). Additionally the National Autism Indicators Report by Drexel University, found that fewer than one in six autistic adults are full-time employees. However, the majority of those who are not working is not by choice since 77% who are unemployed stated that they want to work.
The hard thing with disabilities is 62% of employees who are disabled note that it is invisible and not easily seen or noted by the workplace.
Additionally, the majority of people with disabilities are keeping the status a secret with only 39% disclosing it to their manager and 21% to HR. When disabilities are invisible it is up to the employee to decide when, whether, and with whom to share their disability status. Employees have noted that they still fear when disclosing that they will endure teasing, changes in relationships, be perceived as lazy or less capable and their status affecting their career as reasons to not disclose. This showcases the need for companies to ensure they are including accessibility into their plans to ensure employees feel comfortable coming forward and that they will not be discriminated against.
Below you can watch a quick clip of Craig Leen, Circa Board member, former Direct of OFCCP, and partner at K&L Gates as he discusses the importance of adding accessibility to DEI.
Watch Craig’s full discussion on Strategies for Workplace Allies and Supporting Employees with Invisible Disabilities.
Accessibility brings a ton of benefits both direct and indirect to employees in your workplace. This provides the opportunity to not only provide a more open workplace but one where employees feel comfortable to ask for accommodations. Additionally, companies should keep in mind that 56% of employers have said that accommodations needed by their employees cost absolutely nothing and 39% of employers experienced a one-time cost for an accommodation.
Direct benefits of accessibility include retaining valuable employees, increase in productivity, increase in attendance, increase in diversity and savings from compensation & other insurance costs. Indirect benefits that employers saw included improved interactions with co-workers, company morale, company productivity, interactions with customers and overall company attendance. These benefits alone should showcase the need for adding A to your DEI strategy.
When getting started with adding accessibility to your DEI strategy, a lot of times it can be hard to figure out where to start or how to showcase your company’s support of accessibility. Check out some easy tips of where you can get started to add accessibility into the workplace.
When looking to update or add A to you DEI plan watch our Creating & Implementing a DEI Strategy on-demand webinar or download our free Creating & Implementing a DEI Strategy whitepaper for tips and best practices to help you through the process.
Also, register for our upcoming webinar on October 20, 2021 focused on Understanding Neurodiversity & Building an Inclusive Work Environment.