Creating inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities

Why talk about disability?

15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability - visible or invisible - but very often disability is a taboo subject in the workplace.

❌ 30% of employees in a workplace have a disability(Coqual, 2016)

❌ 13% of employees have visible disabilities

❌ 62% have invisible disabilities

Visible and invisible disabilities

Not all disabilities are visible. Some are invisible, such as dyslexia, mental illness, autism, ADHD, dementia, brain injury, speech impairment, visual impairment, blindness or hearing impairment.

Living with an invisible disability can make everyday life more demanding, but many people may find it difficult to understand the challenges that people with invisible disabilities face in their everyday lives, simply because the challenges are not visible.

People with disabilities experience discrimination in the workplace

This can be discrimination in the form of microaggressions (subtle comments or actions) from colleagues e.g. condescending language, neglect of competences, ignoring etc.

Many workplaces are not physically designed for people with certain types of disabilities e.g. large offices with a lot of noise, lack of lifts, no or few support options for e.g. reading text, etc.

This form of discrimination is called 'ableism'

"Discrimination action against people based on the physical ability of their body, especially against people with disabilities in favour of people who are not disabled."

Disabled World

One of the reasons is that we don't want to acknowledge that we are different and experience the world differently. We have grown up with a notion of equality and are afraid to address the fact that we may not actually be equal. As a result, we tend to neutralise differences rather than highlighting them and thus can work to create inclusive workplaces.

What can we do to create inclusive workplaces where people with disabilities thrive?

  • An equity approach: Recognise that everyone needs something different to have equal opportunities.
  • Internal communication: use channels and platforms to communicate that all people, including people with disabilities, are welcome and respected.
  • Include people with disabilities in solutions for the working environment and the physical workplace design

Want to know how to create an inclusive workplace that embraces diversity? Contact us here.

Nikoline Nybo

BA Anthropology and Chaos Pilot.

Experience in cultural analysis and anthropological methodology, project management and process design, organizational development and facilitation.

Louise Marie Genefke

Cand. mag. Marketing & Communication, MA Management and External Lecturer AU.

Experience with management, talent and organizational development, facilitation and Employer Branding.