Sarah (Getting Hired) – As a consultant in the disability space, why is disability inclusion important to you?
I have many personal ties to disability inclusion as I have family members with both apparent and non-apparent disabilities, including my husband who has epilepsy. We are fortunate that his seizures do not occur on a frequent basis, but it was after his most recent episode this past year that I experienced the value of an inclusive workplace from a caregiver’s perspective.
Having a grand mal seizure, also known as a tonic-clonic seizure, meant that he could not drive for a number of months for precautionary reasons while additional testing was being done. As a caregiver, I did not hesitate to take on the responsibility of providing all transportation to and from work, appointments, and anything beyond that on a daily basis. What I was not prepared for was the emotional exhaustion that I constantly experienced from worrying about his well-being and adjusting to my new schedule.
Knowing that I worked for our company, Getting Hired, and with a team that was knowledgeable and supportive of disability inclusion was one of the key reasons why I was able to get through that time. I felt comfortable to self-disclose as a caregiver to my manager, and request my needed accommodation of a flexible work schedule.
Sarah (Getting Hired) – Why is it important for companies to make disability inclusion a priority?
People often don’t realize how common disabilities are. There are currently 1 in 4 Americans with a disability, and over 80 percent of disabilities are acquired through someone’s lifetime.
For me, if I hadn’t felt that I worked for a company that was truly inclusive and supportive, chances are that I would not have self-disclosed as a caregiver or shared what happened due to fear of being looked at or treated differently. This is one of the main reasons why individuals don’t disclose their disability or being a caregiver. Feeling uncomfortable to request a needed accommodation to successfully perform at work could result in the loss of that employee and overall low productivity and retention rates.
According to a 2018 study from Accenture and Disability:IN, findings indicated that companies who are inclusive of persons with disabilities have 28 percent higher revenue and two times higher net income due to their retention and productivity increasing. This study is just one example of why companies should make disability inclusion a priority if they haven’t already.
Sarah (Getting Hired) – Where is the best place for companies to start?
The best place to start is to have more conversations. It can all start with you. Start with sharing your story or personal connection to disability with a co-worker or your team. Companies often don’t realize how many people with disabilities already exist within their organization because it is not talked about by leadership, or highlighted through IDPD or NDEAM in October. TD Bank has a great series of stories from employees who have self-disclosed their disability. Not only does this encourage other existing employees to self-disclose, but also shows your organization’s focus on the inclusion of people with disabilities for external audiences and job seekers.