Inclusion@Work: A Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization
Communicate: External & Internal Communication of Company Policies & Practices
To maximize a company’s ability to attract talent with disabilities, it is important to communicate to the public its commitment to employing individuals with disabilities and having an inclusive and diverse work environment, including subcontractors and vendors. Examples of successful external communication strategies and practices include:
- Including individuals with visible disabilities when employees are pictured in customer, promotional or recruitment advertising.
- Sponsoring and participating in job fairs that target job seekers with disabilities.
- Informing disability organizations about company-sponsored career days, youth motivation/mentoring programs and related community activities.
- Distributing information about relevant disability company policies and priorities to subcontractors, vendors and suppliers and requesting their support, and when feasible, requiring it via contract.
- Communicating with union officials and/or employee representatives about the company’s policies and seeking their cooperation, if the company is a party to a collective bargaining agreement.
- Posting the company’s policy statements regarding disability inclusion and reasonable accommodations; special recruitment and hiring initiatives; and targeted internship, mentoring and job shadowing programs on its public website.
Strong external communication strategies and outreach and recruitment initiatives will be more effective if they are accompanied by internal support from supervisory and management personnel and are understood by co-workers, some of whom may have had only limited contact with individuals with disabilities. Internal communication and other strategies targeting managers, supervisors and co-workers can foster awareness, acceptance and support among all levels of staff within the company. Examples of successful internal communication strategies and practices include:
- Establishing an office that delivers a holistic approach to disability program management by bringing together the operational components of reasonable accommodations, case work, policy, oversight and education.
- Establishing a disability employee resource group (ERG) aligned with the company’s diversity and inclusion program and inviting existing employees with disabilities as well as employees with family members or friends with disabilities. The purpose of this group should include helping to identify policies and procedures that support a positive work environment for people with disabilities and informing the company about outreach avenues and marketing to the disability market. As with all ERGs, it should have direct access to company leadership.
- Publicizing the company’s commitment in its internal publications (e.g., intranet, employee newsletters/magazines).
- Publishing a newsletter or newsletter articles with metrics about progress on achieving goals and related resources.
- Including images of employees with disabilities in employee handbooks and other internal publications that feature photographs of employees.
- Including disability-specific policies regarding internal communications and information dissemination in the employer’s policy manual and employee handbook.
- Conducting special meetings, orientations and training programs with executives, management, supervisory personnel, union officials and employee representatives to communicate the commitment of the company and its leadership to fostering a disability inclusive corporate culture and work environment.
- Enabling individuals with disabilities to be represented within the company’s decision-making bodies, including its Board of Directors.
- Establishing a policy that all managers and supervisors share responsibility for the successful implementation of the company’s inclusion policy and ensuring that they are held accountable through their performance evaluation plans.
- As part of the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), adopting disability management and prevention programs, with the goal that workers who become injured or ill remain part of the workforce.
- Adopting a recognition and awards program acknowledging individuals responsible for achieving progress and positive outcomes related to disability employment.