Accessibility in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives have become a top priority for today’s organizations. Studies continue to show that companies that value DEI are more profitable than those that don’t and their employees report higher levels of engagement, trust, and satisfaction. These are all critical components for success! As DEI has taken the spotlight, strides have been made towards equality based on gender, race and sexual orientation. One aspect of DEI that is often overlooked, however, is disability and accessibility.
Diversity Equity Inclusion and Accessibility
Disability awareness and accessibility in the workplace are important components of diversity, equity, and inclusion that cannot be overlooked. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 1 in 4 people in the United States are living with a disability. Additionally, the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that in 2020, 12.6% of disabled individuals are unemployed – the highest number in 7 years. Companies need to focus on making their workplaces attractive and accessible to these individuals. Employers must be cognizant of the limitations of the physical working space and office design and make changes as needed. All employees should have access to assistive technologies and feel comfortable asking for the tools and resources they need to be successful.
COVID and Accessibility
Prior to the pandemic, many employers were hesitant to offer adaptive technologies or working from home to people with disabilities. However, COVID has made working from home and remote meeting technologies the go forward plan for many employers. Doors that open automatically and wider aisles have also become more commonplace to help reduce infection rates and promote social distancing.
Businesses have adapted to meet COVID requirements and have inadvertently become more accessible to individuals with disabilities. As organizations continue to focus on ensuring safety, they could become more open to undertaking accommodations in the future. Doing so would broaden access to opportunities for the approximately 1 million U.S. workers with disabilities that have lost their jobs since the World Health Organization proclaimed the outbreak a pandemic in March of 2020.
Accessibility at 3Play
At 3Play Media, we are in a unique position when it comes to incorporating accessibility into DEI efforts. 3Play was founded on a mission of inclusion and has deep roots in accessibility, so even before we implemented a formal DEI initiative, accessibility was at the forefront of our business and company culture. We believe in the social and business obligation to foster diversity, belonging, and inclusion, and we value the many ways in which they make us stronger.
Our company is great because of our people, and cultivating diversity is a critical component of what continues to make us great as we grow. Finding ways to support accessibility and inclusivity is a big part of our culture and our employees are always eager to participate.
All new hires go through a training program that includes an entire section on accessibility. We believe it is important for everyone to understand what accessibility means both inside and outside of 3Play. We also have all new hires earn a Video Accessibility Certification, since that is at the core of who we are.
We have a committee at 3Play solely focused on accessibility (a11y). The purpose of the group is to prioritize accessibility in everything we do, whether that be reworking our website, incorporating accessibility into our application process, or even keeping up with what’s going on in the accessibility world. We have a Slack channel dedicated to all things a11y and all employees are encouraged to post accessibility information and news.
Annually, as a company we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This year we brought in two speakers for a public webinar, actor Mickey Rowe and disability advocate Michael Agyin, as well as hosted an American Sign Language (ASL) training class for employees and donated to the Disability EmpowHer Network.
It Starts in Recruiting
Incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in your workplace has to start at the very beginning. That means it begins with your recruiting processes. You want to reach a diverse pool of candidates from all communities and be open to all potential employees. It is important to take the time to understand the barriers that candidates may encounter in navigating your website and applying for your jobs. You will also want to ensure that your job descriptions accurately reflect the true requirements of the position and do not include unnecessary qualifications. Screening and interview processes should be flexible and offer accommodations for those in need.
All employees and managers should be trained on using inclusive language and putting the person first rather than their characteristics. Teaching others to have a growth mindset, use gender neutral language, and avoid derogatory terms is key to fostering a culture of belonging.
You can get started today by taking small but meaningful steps in the right direction. Provide captions for your next all employee meeting or Zoom interview with a candidate. Encourage employees to be open in sharing their preferred pronouns. Offer flexible schedules and hybrid work arrangements. Doing so will benefit your employees and eliminate barriers for talented individuals interested in joining your organization.
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