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The First Step to Workplace Inclusivity for People With Disabilities

Learning Opportunities

Some courses of action have already been taken by companies for creating a better and safer space for people who are physically challenged. Gradually, industries are progressing with their inclusive practices for all of their employees, paving the way for a more comfortable environment for everyone in the workplace. Across all initiatives, all that lie beneath these courses of action roots in one thing: the initiative to become more informed, resulting in informed decisions and well-decided, progressive practices.

The first step to addressing any problem is not immediately implementing full-blown solutions; rather, it is educating oneself about the problem. This enables people in management to know the gaps in between the community, framed in the context of their own organizations. Getting better-acquainted with real challenges and opportunities of people with disabilities is far better than strong assumptions leading to ill-advised decisions, and thus, actions. Apart from this effect, another result of the lack of initiative to become informed is an acquired bias or prejudice against people with disabilities. This could manifest during the interview stages up to the employment phase. Moreover, it is imperative for people in management to account for the contexts of people with disabilities subjected to the implications of the pandemic. Some companies may already have had effective practices in the physical setting, but their effectiveness might have changed over the course of the pandemic. In this light, it is, again, essential to rely not on assumption, but on actual information to navigate and explore ways on how to adopt old practices in the current setting. In effect, only after acquiring sufficient information on existing gaps will truly effective courses of action arise. For instance, Microsoft has carefully created and implemented plans on improving its hiring processes to ensure that people with disabilities have opportunities for job acquisition. Another is the initiative of the company to create meaningful partnerships with other organizations that hire people with disabilities. Lastly, to align itself with the ongoing impacts of the crisis, Microsoft has developed its Microsoft Enabler Program, a “sandbox” for different firms whose advocacies of disability inclusion align with that of their own. Evidently, Microsoft has been actively looking for ways on how to translate the same inclusivity they fostered in the physical setting to the remote setting – an important practice that companies must continue working towards amidst these times. 

In essence, there’s a call for companies to not only include inclusivity in their culture for the sake of doing so. Instead of this, it is encouraged for them to be intentional about their steps in alleviating the current problems and challenges faced by people with disabilities. Ultimately, such intentional endeavors would be difficult to undertake if individuals in the company do not embrace the value of inclusivity themselves, nor do they have the mere initiative to know more about the community, their struggles, and what they could do to help them along the way.