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Disability Inclusion Makes Financial Sense

Throughout much of history, disabled people have often been relegated to the margins of the workforce, even though many of the world’s preeminent thinkers, artists, and scientists have had a disability. In the past (and still to this day), employers were unwilling to make accommodations that allowed those with disabilities to participate in many industries. Thanks to modern technology and the advancement of disability rights, things are changing.

This move in the right direction doesn't only benefit employees with disabilities, however. It has also been a fantastic financial move for employers. The 485 companies that participated in the 2023 Disability Equality Index Report demonstrated significant revenue growth and profit, largely thanks to their open and inclusive disability policies. They also indicated higher employee satisfaction rates, specifically emphasizing inclusive workplace practices.

So, how can disability inclusion help you create a better, more productive workplace for your employees?

Disability Inclusion Opens Up The Workforce

As an employer, if you're willing to abide by the Americans With Disabilities Act, you have a significantly more robust pool of applicants to choose from when hiring. Legally speaking, all employers need to adhere to the ADA, but those with disabilities will quickly inform you that this isn’t always the case. Creating a disability-inclusive workplace will ensure that creative, intelligent, and hardworking employees with disabilities will feel safe and excited to apply to work for your company.

You can also create a diversity-inclusive hiring process to inform prospective employees that you are a disability-friendly workplace. You can include this information in job postings, such as on LinkedIn and Indeed, or add a section on your website about workplace inclusivity.

A Positive Reputation Creates Loyal Employees and Customers

Your business reputation as a disability–friendly workforce goes far beyond your employees. Many consumers want to support companies whose ethics align with their values. A positive reputation as an inclusive workplace can create loyal fans, both within the disability community and beyond it. Many Americans, or their loved ones, are impacted by disabilities and want to see a more inclusive workforce.

Accessibility Measures Benefit All Employees

Employee retention is an essential part of running a successful business. And when employers show a commitment to creating positive, accessible changes in the workforce, all employees benefit, not just employees with disabilities.

So what does this mean? Accessibility measures for disabled employees, for example, might include ergonomic workspaces that benefit a physically disabled employee but could also help all employees avoid repetitive stress injuries and workers’ compensation claims. A flexible workday may assist somebody with a neurodiverse disorder, but it could also help working parents meet their childcare needs so they can give 100% at home and work. 

The possibilities are endless and can often be employee-led, as employees know what they need to do their jobs well. If your staff will be working 8+ hours per day at your company, make sure it's a place they enjoy. Flexibility and inclusivity benefit everybody in the company, improving productivity, company loyalty, employee retention, and team morale.

How To Foster a Disability Inclusive Workforce

If you're interested in learning how to make your workplace a more accommodating and inclusive environment for all employees, try these tips.

1. Encourage Employees to Request Accommodations

Many disabilities are invisible, and employees often feel pressured to make their own accommodations (and foot the bill) to get their needs met in the workplace. If your company has a community of support and willingness to provide assistance, your employees will likely feel more comfortable requesting accommodations and bringing forward ideas about how to make your workplace more accessible for everybody.

2. Create an Employee Resource Group for Disabled Employees

Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, are voluntary community groups for employees to provide support, share ideas, and feel safe and included. Creating such a group would allow your staff not only to feel a sense of belonging, but this group can encourage employees to brainstorm ways in which the company can increase its inclusivity.

3. Foster A Sense of Flexibility

Many businesses, especially those in corporate America, get stuck in one way of doing things. This rigidity can often leave those with disabilities on the sidelines and can hinder the creativity of the whole business. When you're willing to be flexible and try things differently, this opens up new opportunities for innovation.

Examples of this include:

  • Allowing employees to work from home when appropriate and use teleconferencing instead of in-person meetings.
  • Creating asynchronous workflows so people can collaborate and communicate in ways that work for them. This can include letting people flex their time or engage with teammates through chat instead of video calls.
  • Promoting non-traditional schedules, such as part-time and independent contractor positions.

Change can be scary, and doing things differently requires trial and error. But when you put aside the standard way of doing things, you invite new opportunities for growth and development.

4. Empower Disabled Employees in the Workforce

When members of management are open and willing to share about their disabilities, the rest of the company feels empowered to do the same. For example, having a member of the C-suite identify as neurotypical could open the conversation for employees to request accommodations so they can be the most successful employees they can be. Change often starts at the top, and having leadership dedicated to inclusivity is powerful.

Disability Inclusion Benefits Everyone

Through disability inclusion and workplace flexibility, you can improve your business, increase profits, and create a loyal workforce. And as the data shows, the benefits of an inclusive workplace are far-reaching. Everyone benefits when employers make an effort to listen, practice flexibility, and create a dynamic, inclusive environment. 


Ric Burd is a Certified Disability Manager Specialist at Strategic Consulting Services, a group of disability and accommodation experts in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Ric has been working in this field since 2002. Ric is a Certified Ergonomics Evaluation Specialist and is currently a Registered Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Department of Labor and Industries.

To get in touch with Ric or the team of disability and accommodations experts at Strategic Consulting Services, visit their website: https://strategicconsultinginc.com/.

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