South Africa

Creating inclusive workspaces by empowering employees with disabilities

Madre Van Der Merwe
Senior Manager: Operations (I CAN)
Adcorp Group
3 mins

By Madre Van Der Merwe, Senior Manager: Operations at I CAN

To the forward-thinking business leaders of today’s world, it’s time to recognise a powerful truth: an inclusive workspace isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage. To empower and hire employees with disabilities can significantly drive your company forward, both in terms of workforce diversity and bottom-line performance.

According to McKinsey research, organisations identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. Harvard Business Review agrees, stating that diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets, while the Boston Consulting Group reveals that diverse management teams lead to 19% higher revenue. People Management says that diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions, most likely because there are a variety of experiences and opinions in the room that can be leveraged for the good of the business, its people and customers.

The key to achieving real diversity begins with an organisational-wide culture that supports diversity, and that can only happen through a diversity strategy.

Remember, there’s more than just revenue and competitiveness at stake. More and more, employees are looking for diversity when choosing their employers. Glassdoor reveals that two out of three job candidates seek companies that have diverse workforces, 47% of millennials actively look for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers, according to Deloitte, and millennials are 83% more likely to be engaged at work at inclusive companies.

Here are 6 key benefits to keep top of mind while considering a diversity strategy:

  1. You will harness diverse talents

The idea that diversity brings varying perspectives to the table, enhancing innovation and problem-solving is not new. What has not always been considered is the value that individuals with disabilities to this spectrum due to a unique set of experiences, skills, and perspectives that can be leveraged to enrich the business environment.

Take, for instance, the experience of someone who is visually impaired. Their heightened sense of hearing or touch might make them particularly adept in certain roles. They might also approach problems and solutions from angles that others might not have considered.

  1. There are economic benefits

A common misconception is that accommodating employees with disabilities is costly and does not provide a tangible return on investment. This myth could not be farther from the truth. In fact, according to a report from Accenture, companies that championed persons with disabilities outperformed their peers, achieving 28% higher revenue, double the net income, and 30% higher economic profit margins.

  1. Enhanced brand image and loyalty

In a socially conscious world, companies that prioritise inclusivity and diversity are viewed more favourably by consumers. By actively promoting and implementing policies that support employees with disabilities, you’re sending a strong message about your company’s values. This can lead to increased brand loyalty, favourable press, and a competitive edge in the market.

  1. Boosting employee morale and retention

When employees see their peers being treated with fairness and respect regardless of their disabilities, it fosters a positive company culture. Employees are more likely to remain loyal to organizations where they feel valued and see others being valued.

  1. Tapping into a wider talent pool

Nearly 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability. By not creating inclusive workspaces, businesses are effectively sidelining a significant portion of potential talent. By being inclusive, you ensure that your recruitment processes capture the very best, irrespective of physical or cognitive differences.

  1. Legal and compliance benefits

Many countries have established regulations and laws that advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace. By proactively creating an inclusive workspace, you not only avoid potential legal pitfalls and fines but can also avail of grants and incentives designed to promote such inclusivity.

Steps to creating a more inclusive workspace

Audits and training: Begin with an accessibility audit of your workplace. Identify areas of improvement and ensure that all facilities, from restrooms to meeting rooms, are accessible. Training sessions can help sensitise the workforce and equip them with the knowledge to interact and support their peers with disabilities.

Flexible work arrangements: Understand that traditional 8 to 5 workdays might not be feasible for everyone. Offering flexible work schedules, remote working options, or part-time roles can make a significant difference.

Mentorship programmes: Pairing employees with disabilities with mentors can be an excellent way for them to navigate the company culture, while also giving mentors a unique opportunity to grow and learn.

Continuous feedback: Create channels for feedback specifically targeted at understanding the needs and challenges faced by employees with disabilities. Use this feedback to continually refine your policies and practices.

If you are ready to embark on a business strategy with undeniable benefits and create environments where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can thrive and contribute meaningfully, connect with the I CAN team.

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Madre Van Der Merwe
Senior Manager: Operations (I CAN)
Adcorp Group

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