South Africa

Diversity and Inclusion: When Leaders Embrace Disability in the Workplace

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

In a business world where resources are scarce, championing diversity and inclusion is not just a moral imperative, but a strategic necessity. Embracing diversity and inclusion can be an excellent strategy to hire more talent, create a more productive workforce, and attract top talent.

Multiple studies by LinkedIn, McKinsey, D&I Global market, Deloitte and people market confirm the same thing. Let’s take a look at the stats:

  • 60% of respondents in a LinkedIn study said that diversity within their sales team has contributed to their teams’ success.
  • Organisations in the top 25% for gender diversity have more than a 25% likelihood of financially outperforming their peers.
  • Organisations in the top 25% for ethnic diversity have a 36% higher likelihood of financial outperformance.
  • Diverse companies earn 2.5x higher cash flow per employee.
  • Inclusive teams are over 35% more productive.
  • Diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time.

Understanding the importance of diversity is not the same as knowing how to go about transforming workforces, however. First, it’s important to remember that generally, diversity in the workplace refers to an organisation that intentionally employs a workforce comprised of individuals with a range of characteristics. This includes different genders, but also races, ages, ethnicities, and importantly, people with disabilities. Rather than promoting one type of employee or having a concentration of workers with similar backgrounds, employers that are committed to creating diverse workplaces make a concentrated effort to hire people from all walks of life and amplify voices from across their organisation.

Here are three simple benefits to a more diverse workplace:

1. Access more talent
Diversity and inclusion can significantly broaden the talent pool. By creating an inclusive environment that values diverse perspectives and backgrounds, businesses can attract a range of candidates with varied skills and experiences. This can be especially valuable in industries where skills shortages are common.

2. Increase engagement and decrease employee turnover
A diverse and inclusive workforce is likely to be more innovative and creative. Different perspectives and experiences can lead to more robust problem-solving and a greater range of ideas. Deloitte finds that an increased emphasis on workplace diversity tends to come hand-in-hand with a noteworthy boost in engagement. And since there’s a demonstrated link between employee engagement and turnover, companies can expect to see a significant improvement in retention when they prioritise workforce diversity.

3. Attract more talent

In today’s competitive job market, top talent is often attracted to companies that share their values. Many job seekers prioritize diversity and inclusion when considering potential employers. By demonstrating a commitment to these values, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and attract the best talent.

Disability inclusion begins at the top

True diversity and inclusion, particularly when it comes to employees with disabilities, does not happen by chance. Leaders must be role models for diversity and inclusion. They should actively promote these values and demonstrate their commitment through their actions.

Establish clear policies and practices that promote diversity and inclusion, including unbiased recruitment processes, equal pay, and opportunities for professional development.

It’s also critical to provide education and training for all employees on the importance of diversity and inclusion and supporting their colleagues with disabilities. This can help to challenge biases and foster a more inclusive culture.

When you foster a culture where everyone feels valued and included, employees are encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives and will feel deep pride in their workplace.

How I CAN can help

I CAN has built a sustainable business model that assists as many persons with a disability as possible, by addressing development and employment opportunities within the South African mainstream business environment.

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

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