Tips to Help Foster Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
In February 2021, we hosted the third ACCESS at Home virtual event, which focused on accessibility and fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
There were many excellent speakers, each sharing their expertise and experiences on incorporating and prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our companies and organizations.
This post covers some of the key takeaways from the event and provides actionable steps we can take to improve accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Address Implicit Biases and Support Advocacy
Stacey A. Gordon is a diversity, inclusion, and career strategist and Rework Work CEO. In her ACCESS at Home presentation, Making Access Accessible for All, Gordon discussed how to address our implicit – or unconscious – biases and reflect on how they affect our decisions as they relate to DEI.
Implicit biases are stereotypes or attitudes of which people are often unaware. The underlying perceptions affect our views, actions, and ability to make decisions that support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Digging deep, addressing, and dismantling our unconscious biases allows us to get to a state of advocacy.
What are the steps to get to a state of advocacy? Gordon introduced a four-part framework, called the Unbias Blueprint, that begins with awareness:
- Awareness: Look within your organization and understand where DEI is lacking. Recognize where implicit bias is getting in the way of diversity and access.
- Alignment: Knowing where you stand with DEI, you can begin to align the desired direction with organizational strategies and processes.
- Action: With aligned strategies in place, it’s time to enact measurable action. This enables organizations to identify progress and areas that need more attention.
- Advocacy: Commit to continuous improvement – understanding that there is always room for growth makes DEI initiatives sustainable.
Having diversity allows us to…create inclusion, and creating inclusion allows us to get to that state of belonging.
– Stacey A. Gordon
Get Instant Access to Recordings
February’s ACCESS at Home virtual event recordings are available for free! Sign up to get instant access to experts on accessibility and diversity and learn frameworks to build a more inclusive workplace.
Build an Accessible Recruiting Process
When it comes to accessibility, Sheri Byrne-Haber has great expertise on the matter. Byrne-Haber is a subject matter expert in disability and accessibility in business and educational settings. In her ACCESS at Home presentation, The Five Stages of Accessible Recruiting, Byrne-Haber delved into best practices for building and maintaining an accessible recruiting process.
Why does accessible recruiting matter? According to Byrne-Haber, there are several reasons:
- Companies want to avoid a knock on the door from the EEOC, which could result in up to a $30,000 fine per offense.
- 87% of job seekers view DEI as a key factor when searching for a job.
- Companies that are disability champions outperform their peers, have increased rates of innovation, and better return on investment.
Most organizations will say that they are inclusive…The question is whether or not their actions back up those words.
– Sheri Byrne-Haber
There are six significant stages to building an accessible recruiting process.
- Organizational Research: Is your website and application system(s) accessible? Do job descriptions have ablest language?
- Application Process: Do you have strong EEOC statements? Do you offer multiple modes of communication, such as voice and non-voice?
- Interview Process: Do you provide reasonable accommodations for candidates? Is your teleconferencing software screen reader accessible?
- Offer Process: Is the offer letter accessible? Are the benefits within the offer letter accessible?
- Onboarding: Are you providing an accessible transition into the job? Are the training methods accessible?
- Retention: Are you maintaining an accessible and inclusive company culture? Are you providing accessible tools for job success?
By taking a close look at these recruiting steps and ensuring accessibility is prioritized at every stage, companies can build more diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Understand the Importance of Social Accessibility
In her ACCESS at Home session, Emily Yates, an Accessibility Consultant and Journalist, shared her personal experiences. She volunteered at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, spoke at the British Consulate in Rio de Janeiro on access and inclusion, and had a role as an Accessibility Consultant for MetroRio, the underground transport system for the city.
While Yates calls out the cruciality of physical accessibility – ramps, elevators, automatic doorways, – she underlines that we often forget about social access.
When we flip the narrative and see that it’s society’s responsibility to remove barriers and encourage access and inclusion, it’s suddenly easier for disabled people to realize their potential and capabilities.
– Emily Yates
Social access refers to the way society treats and views disabled people. According to a Scope study, 67% of the British public said they would go out of their way to avoid a disabled person. This particular mindset is an unfortunate hindrance to social access. As a society, we have a long way to go for removing social access barriers.
The social model of disability aims to remove the false perception that disability is the problem. Instead, the model points out that it is society’s responsibility to remove barriers, encourage access and inclusion, and improve social access for people with disabilities. Organizations can begin to integrate the social access mindset through disability awareness training and by engaging with experts and people who have lived experience of disability.
When social access is improved, greater equal access for all will follow.
There’s plenty more tips from ACCESS to go around. Want to view all ACCESS at Home recordings? Be sure to sign up to gain instant access to recordings for free. Plus, stay tuned for our next ACCESS event!
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