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2 Disability D&I Gaps in Your Talent Strategy & What to Do About It

March 22, 2022
Author: AO Editor

Recruiting disabled employees is often the first step a company takes when it wants to improve disability diversity and inclusion.

Fueled by the “desire to hire”, this seems like the logical, intuitive thing to do to be successful in advancing your disability D&I in your overall talent strategy.

While getting people in the door is great, what happens next?

what would living rooms across America look like if Ikea furniture didn’t come with instructions for assembly?

Definitely not a dumpster fire. They’d be too soaked in blood, sweat, and tears.

The talent strategy and tactics behind successful disability employment programs is tremendously more complex than just recruiting and hiring disabled employees.

Thankfully, proven disability employment methodologies and approaches do exist, just like instructions for Ikea furniture.

In this article we’re going to cover:

  • 2 common, costly gaps when implementing disability diversity into the overall talent strategy
  • The disability D&I questions you need to answer
  • 3 Disability D&I Strategies with actionable tactics to remediate these gaps and maximize D&I ROI

Let’s dive right in.

Is Recruiting Disabled Employees Core to your Inclusive Talent Strategy?

It’s easy to fire up disability recruiting and hiring activity early on so bright-eyed and inclusively bushy tailed

Congrats, you just hired an employee with a disability!

Insert flashing lights. Cue successive DJ laser beams… Pew! Pew Pew!

Introducing disability D&I Gap #1

Awareness of and familiarization with disabled employees is very low.

While a functional gap, this is a problem resulting from an incomplete or remedial disability D&I strategy –lacks plans to assess, realize, and remediate disability awareness and disability readiness.

Consider what happens when you employ a person with a disability in this context.

One by one, organizational processes, policies, and people are challenged. Accommodations, onboarding and training approach, digital and physical work environments, IT, procurement, and supervisors are all in question.

On short order, HR business partners and executives  begin realizing how many disability diversity and inclusion gaps they have across their management, culture, and organization.

Frustration abound. Time and money lost. Satisfaction compromised.

Getting disability diversity right can be very, very difficult. And it’s complex.

There are numerous different disability types, innumerous disability severity levels, invisible, physical, and multiple disability considerations, and, for many individuals, their disability severity is not static. Meaning, how their disability affects their ability to perform core job functions may change from day to day.

Lack of awareness, familiarization, and general understanding of people with disabilities and their needs is gap #1 for employers.

Ok, you got me. That’s 2 or 3 gaps rolled into 1.

But this is reason #1 why you shouldn’t launch your disability recruiting campaign early on in your disability diversity and inclusion employment program.

Disability D&I Gap #2 is Disability Readiness.

Disability Readiness represents an organization’s overall capacity to successfully employ, enable, and empower  people with disabilities to succeed at work.

It covers critical areas of employment like digitally accessible work environments, physical accessibility, cultural inclusion and integration, career advancement, ADA accommodations, performance reviews, emergency response preparedness, and more.

Apologies… That’s at least a dozen gaps rolled into one.

Thank goodness for Ikea’s detailed instructions and comprehensive disability D&I strategies!

Disability Diversity and Inclusion Questions You Need to Answer

Have you performed an accessibility assessment of the physical work environment? How will changes be implemented?

Do software applications required to perform necessary job functions meet ADA and Section 508 compliance? What will you do if they don’t?

Is the IT department up to date with the technical needs and differences for employees who use assistive technology? How will you ensure all departments and resources are prepared to support disabled employees appropriately?

What is the process for assessing, managing, and providing ADA accommodations? How will you determine if the current process is optimal?

These are just a few questions and considerations when evaluating if different departments, key stakeholders, processes, policies, executive leadership, and other variables are capable to connect and collaborate to advance your disability readiness.

But what can you start with right now? And how can you begin to improve your company’s disability awareness and disability readiness?

3 Strategies + Tactics for Improving Disability Awareness and Disability Readiness

If you are unable to partner with an expert in helping your company with your disability D&I strategy, consider this when developing your plans.

Awareness is the first step toward meaningful change. Not action.

If I’m more aware, then I’m better able to understand.

And if I understand why, then you’ve helped me find meaning for change.

Consider how you can leverage this to help manage organizational change, facilitate employees feeling more connected, and talent finding deeper meaning in their work.

Here’s those 3 strategies with multiple actionable tactics to improve disability awareness and maximize D&I ROI across your company.

  1. Communicate your organizational disability inclusion values, goals, and priorities often.

Communicate organizational values, goals, and priorities for improving disability employment diversity and inclusion to the entire staff on a monthly basis via newsletter and intranet. Facilitate on-going (daily or weekly) conversations of disability awareness and inclusion with team members led by management, department heads, and team leaders. Transparently communicate the identified organizational gaps in disability inclusion, the plans for creating change, and provide status updates on outcomes as you progress.

  1. Assess employee sentiment on disability readiness, awareness, and inclusion.

Distribute employee sentiment surveys on disability inclusion no less than quarterly and as often as monthly. Increase participation with light survey assessments that take less than 5 minutes to complete. Improve survey results with questions related to specific projects, goals, or areas of work. Ensure analysis of employee sentiment accurately informs decision-making process for change.

  1. Administer specialized trainings specific to role and responsibilities

Incorporate disability awareness, empathy, and best practices training during onboarding for all new employees. Provide training to managers/supervisors on unconscious bias, performance assessments, corrective action plans, and mentoring employees with disabilities. Provide recruiters disability inclusion trainings on job descriptions, accessible recruiting best-practices, and how to prevent disabled candidates from being filtered out by applicant tracking systems. Other roles should include executives, hiring managers, IT, and procurement.

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