Ways to make your workplace more inclusive of employees with disabilities
Along with making workplaces in India more gender diverse, another aspect that is coming under emphasis is disability.
People with disabilities have been left out of the workplace for ages, which has led to a huge loss in terms of productive work hours and employable workforce.
Disability in India is regarded by many as an abnormality and many people feel uneasy around disabled employees as they are not sure how to treat them.
To prepare the ground for disabled employees to work comfortably, company heads must work actively to develop policies so they are utilised effectively.
So what are some of preliminary steps a company should take?
- Company must develop a working definition of disability. There are different types and degrees of disabilities and work can be allocated based on the job requirements.
- All employees must then be informed about the different types of disability and the correct way to engage with such employees. Isolation is a common reaction companies and the discomfort other employees feel leads them to avoid a disabled person. Efforts must be made by companies to provide support and integrate people with disabilities fully in the workplace.
- People are either dismissive or patronizing towards co-workers who have a physical or mental disability. Organizations should run training programs that focus on complete acceptance and equality. The training should provide examples of what makes for discriminatory behaviour. This will help disabled employees to recognize when they are being discriminated against and seek help.
- Organizations should improve infrastructure by revamping the building with – entry and exit ramps for wheelchairs, doors that will open with a switch, relocation of door swiping equipment, smooth passage inside the buildings, handrails on all ramps, renovated washrooms, cafeteria and lounge facilities to enable easy movement.
- Organizations must make an effort to identify positions that can be done by employees with different types of disabilities. Like jobs that need heavy lifting or constant physical effort might not suit someone with impaired limbs. The employee should be able to perform all essential functions for the job.
By including such changes, organizations will help disabled people to be productive members of society and the organization. The biggest challenge in India is that of attitude.