The 2012 Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) publication Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion identifies seven action areas for inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace from recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing qualified individuals. They are:
- Lead the Way: Inclusive Business Culture
- Hire (and Keep) the Best: Personnel Processes
- Ensure Productivity: Reasonable Accommodation Procedures
- Build the Pipeline: Outreach and Recruitment
- Communicate: External and Internal Communication of Company Policies and Practices
- Be Tech Savvy: Accessible Information and Communication Technology
- Grow Success: Accountability and Continuous Improvement Systems
Companies that include disability in their diversity inclusion plans recognize that the “gold standard” of full inclusion includes communicating the company’s commitment to disability inclusion internally and externally. Communications start at the top with corporate commitment to diversity and inclusion that explicitly includes disability. The company’s commitment is posted on the company’s external and internal websites and is illustrated with diversity inclusion messages from senior executives that declare themselves as individuals with disabilities or as allies of people with disabilities.
“How do people know how your company views diversity and disability if you don’t talk about it! At Microsoft we see disability as a strength that can enable innovation and create new technologies that empower people around the world. We need to ensure that our workforce includes people with disabilities to bring that muscle to Microsoft. It’s never been more important to tell the story internally and externally, build community, engage at all levels of the company, drive awareness and realize the potential.”
Senior Director, Trusted Experience Team (TExT)
A company that has set enterprise-wide disability inclusion as its ultimate goal includes its marketing division in its disability diversity initiatives. Disability-savvy marketing associates understand that it is important to portray disability with images and words that are respectful, positive and convey competence and ability. It is equally important that disability is included in all diversity inclusive messaging and not relegated to the “special shelf.” Recognizing that the “gold standard” is an ideal for which to strive, disability-inclusive employers explicitly include disability in all diversity policy statements and review all internal and external communications for respectful disability-inclusive language and images.
Examples of Internal and External Communications Policies & Practices from Private Sector Companies
- Disability is included in all the company’s EEO statements and policies and available through its internal website to all employees.
- The company’s EEO statements, inclusive of disability, are visibly posted at all work locations.
- The company’s advertising featuring the company’s employees includes photos of employees with disabilities.
- The company’s diversity inclusion statements posted on internal and public websites explicitly mention disability.
- A video is posted on both the company’s Intranet and its public website featuring the company’s President reinforcing the company’s culture of respecting diversity and inclusion of all people.
- The company’s catalogue that uses photos of professional models (or real employees) also includes photos of professional models (or real employees) with disabilities.
- The company advertises in disability-specific media outlets.
- The company’s CEO speaks at the company’s annual Employee Resource Group-sponsored disability summit.
- The company’s advertisements aired during the Super Bowl or other media promotions includes disability images.
- The Vice President of IT takes hands-on leadership to insure the company’s internal and external websites are accessible to people with disabilities.
- At a meeting of hundreds of the company’s leaders, their Chief Diversity Officer and a senior company business leader discuss the company’s commitment to disability inclusion.
- During the Paralympic Games, the company aired specific advertising campaigns in print, television, social media and videos that included a disability focus.
- The company’s Ethics Manual that goes to all employees, addresses its commitment to non-discrimination and specifically incorporates disability as one of the aspects of workplace inclusion.
- The company’s banner ads are placed on disability-specific recruiting websites.
- The company’s diversity council includes a disability ally, is comprised of leaders at the Senior Vice-President level, and reports recommendations directly to the C-Suite to communicate the importance of disability inclusion internally and externally.
- All internal and external promotional videos are captioned.
- The company’s Executive Vice President is open about his child with a disability and is a strong disability spokesperson and ally internally and at public events.
- The company partnered with a national disability specific organization to launch a disability-specific ‘hackathon’ to create apps for those with that specific disability.