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Four Steps to Creating an Inclusive Workplace

  1. Understand the meaning of diversity, inclusion, inclusive workplaces and measures of accessibility.
  2. Assess and question your existing workplace in terms of accessibility and policy.
  3. Explore the concepts of Human-Centered Design, Growth Mindset and Universal Design.
  4. Leverage existing skills and implement changes to create an accessible and inclusive workplace.

STEP ONE: Understanding Key Definitions
DIVERSITY:
This concept refers to the variety of people and ideas within a company. Diversity is often defined according to unique differences including race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and maternity/marital status.

INCLUSION:
This concept refers to creating an environment in which people feel involved, respected and valued. Inclusion allows individuals to use their ideas and perspectives in their work with colleagues and customers.

INCLUSIVE WORKPLACES:
This concept refers to fostering the variety of people and ideas within a company by creating an environment in which people have a sense of belonging and can bring their “authentic” selves to the team and the business.

MEASURES OF ACCESSIBILITY:
This concept extends to every phase of the employment continuum, from recruitment to retention. Protocols and systems often entail conditions that may create issues of inaccessibility.

REMEMBER! Human diversity is multidimensional.
  • Visible diversity may involve culture, ethnicity/race, nationality, gender, age and mental/physical status. (The latter is often referred to as disability).
  • Invisible diversity may involve thoughts, perspectives and life experiences, including education, family status, values/beliefs, work-related style preferences and socioeconomic status.
  • Other diversity dimensions that may or may not be visible may include sexual orientation, religion, language and veteran status.


STEP TWO: Assessing and Questioning Your Existing Workplace in Terms of Accessibility and Policy

Few would argue that barriers and inaccessibility factors are deliberately designed to prevent people with disabilities from joining the workforce. Identifying barriers that may have been inadvertently created and perpetuated within a company’s HR policies and protocols (perhaps by "doing things the same way as we always have") will help people without disabilities to see how policies and protocols could be modified.

Assessing and questioning workplace accessibility should take into consideration all aspects of employment, including the workplace and the hiring process (i.e., from posting jobs and screening resumes to scheduling and conducting interviews and orienting new employees).

Remember that people with disabilities may be dealing with sensory, mobility, cognitive, mental health or other medical issues.
 


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Creating an inclusive workplace is all about changing our perspective!

STEP THREE: Exploring the Concepts of Human-Centered Design, Growth Mindset and Universal Design

HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN is a creative approach to problem-solving that seeks out and applies knowledge of the people for whom you are designing. Focusing on the end users, this method produces outcomes and outputs aimed at reducing systemic barriers while increasing inclusion and engagement.

GROWTH MINDSET is the belief that talent can be developed, learning is constant and improvement can be continuous, as opposed to regarding talent, intelligence and qualifications as fixed attributes required on the very first day of employment. For example, consider your company's last job posting and the various qualities and credentials that applicants were expected to have prior to being interviewed. Although some aspects of "fixed mindsets" are legitimate and necessary, understanding growth in terms of personal potential will expand the pool of candidates from which you can select the best person for the job.

UNIVERSAL DESIGN is an architectural accessibility term originally intended to describe buildings and public spaces. Today, universal design seeks to make products, environments and systems usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation (i.e., design with human diversity, social inclusion and equality in mind).

PLEASE NOTE! In terms of use and implementation, none of these concepts require professional expertise in order to create an inclusive workplace. Familiarity with the appropriate mindset and a willingness to embrace it are all that are needed.


STEP FOUR: Leveraging Existing Skills and Implementing Changes to Create an Accessible and Inclusive Workplace


Use existing skills and knowledge
Business owners, managers, supervisors, foremen and employees all have existing skills. Combining their skills and knowledge to improve workplace accessibility is the first "power tool" available to organizations seeking to increase their reach into a previously inaccessible talent pool.

An employer’s willingness to improve work conditions for all employees is the most important factor in creating change and moving toward diversity and inclusion.

Implement changes in small and simple ways

Here is an example of the systemic application of universal design in creating an inclusive workplace:

  • Review all internal processes and protocols in order to remove barriers to employment.

Here are some examples of fostering accessibility during the hiring process:

1. RECRUITMENT (read more in Tool #4: Recruiting the Best Available Talent)
On the application form, ask if candidates would prefer to be contacted by phone, email, VRS (Video Relay Service), etc.

2. INTERVIEW (read more in Tool #5: Conducting Successful Interviews)
When contacting candidates for interviews:
  • Provide a description of the interview location.
  • Ensure that the location is fully accessible.
  • Define the interview style.
  • Ask whether candidates will need any accommodations for the interview
  • Let candidates know that they may bring support persons to accompany them to the interview

3. SELECTION
(read more in Tools #4 and #5)
Determine essential/critical skills and job requirements prior to the interview.
Be prepared to acknowledge that making accommodations brings value added when selecting the right person for the job.

4. HIRING AND RETENTION (read more in Tool #6: Efficient Hiring)
Develop an accommodation policy addressing ongoing employment accessibility and promoting an inclusive workplace.



Disclaimer:

HIRE for TALENT has made every effort to use the most respectful words possible while writing these materials. We realize, however, that the most appropriate terminology may change over time. We developed these materials with the intent to respect the dignity and inherent rights of all individuals.



Take the Challenge!

True or false

The first step in creating an inclusive workplace is to contact a contractor to assess necessary workplace adjustments.

False. The first step is to reach out to your service provider to help in assessing the existing workplace in terms of accessibility and policy.



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FREE EMPLOYER TOOLKIT

The toolkit offers a variety of informative tools. Learn about the skills people with disabilities bring to the workplace and use our ‘how-to’ resources, that provide practical tips and strategies on successful recruitment, hiring, inclusion and retention of people with disabilities.

DISABILITY CONFIDENT PARTNERS CAN HELP YOU!

There is help to become an inclusive employer! HIRE for TALENT has a network of organizations offering services and programs designed to help your business recruit, hire, train and retain people with disabilities. After consulting the employer toolkit, call a HIRE for TALENT, Disability Confident PARTNER to find-out what services are available near you!

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FACTS & STATS

Employers often find that workers who identify as having disabilities have unique abilities; they also tend to work harder to prove themselves.
According to employers, people with disabilities perform as well or better than other workers. These employers concluded that hiring people with disabilities did not negatively impact their businesses.
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In a national survey of consumer attitudes towards various companies, 92% of the respondents gave favourable ratings to businesses that hire people with disabilities.
98% were satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received when dealing with an employee with a disability.