“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly. But the bumblebee doesn't know that, so it goes on flying anyway." – Mary Kay Ash
Inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace is now a mainstream practice in corporates, featuring in organizational policies and business strategies.
It is said that “confidence” is the key element for an individual’s success. As a leader one should strive to instill hope, confidence, create a comfortable space to shape a wonderful career for individuals working with them. Since a leader can either be a manager, fellow colleague, a mentor, or a counsellor, they have an important role to play to boost the morale of employees.
Hiring is always an opportunity for the employer to explore new skills and talents. A similar mindset must be applied when they are hiring a person with disability. The first step a manager should take when they hire a person with special needs is that they should ensure that their entire team is aware about the person’s disability and a sensitization program should be conducted about various types of disabilities.
One can follow various steps to foster confidence of employees with special needs. Out of which the few can be:
What is important to understand is not all disabilities come in the same size, shape or form. Education and awareness are key components to ensuring we as a firm have the appropriate accommodations and level of empathy to foster a safe, healthy, and productive workplace. We must always accept people the way they are i.e., no person should be judged unfavorably for their disabilities. They should be recognized and respected for who they are and the skillset they possess.
More companies are encouraging employees to self-identify that they have a disability, particularly if an employee has an invisible disability. People who disclose their disability are more engaged with the organization, their managers, and their teams than those who have not disclosed.
Empathy, not Sympathy
Help all employees understand the challenges that persons with disabilities face and contribute to solutions. A little extra effort in this area will go a long way toward creating a work environment where every employee can contribute his or her best. Companies should consider required training for all employees with and without disabilities — especially anyone in a management or supervisory role. The primary goals of this training are to help people better understand and empathize with the challenges their colleagues may face and reduce the stigma of being disabled. Everyone should also know about the tools and accommodations that are available to persons with disabilities, so that the burden of figuring out solutions is not solely on the person with the disability.
Fabricate an Inclusive Culture
An inclusive environment for individuals with special needs must be created in an organization. The managers/colleagues must also ensure that they are not excluded and are involved in all the team activities and events. For eg; training programs and opportunities to connect with other employees will help ensure that persons with disabilities develop and succeed. Mentoring and coaching initiatives are also vital lifelines. Persons with disabilities who serve in senior positions should strongly consider becoming mentors or champions — both internally and externally.
Creating equal Opportunities
Management should make sure to identify the skill set of PWD employees and accordingly help in creating equal opportunities in the fields where their skills can be best utilised. Managers should recognise the strengths of their staff and mentor them to further build and boost their career.
"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." – Confucius
Appreciations and recognition
When it comes to assessing the work done by persons with disability, it’s beneficial to give them genuine and honest feedback without considering their disability. Being over thankful or appreciative leads to the feeling of being treated differently, one should not assume that a disabled employee is not strong enough to listen to the feedback of where they are lacking. Persons with disability should be recognised for their contribution just like any other resources.
The human spirit is one of ability, perseverance, and courage that no disability can steal away.
In the end, let’s conclude by saying that, “fostering a culture of inclusivity coupled with educating employees on avoiding inherent biases will allow for a more inclusive business world overall.”
"Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start."