A recent study by Samsung found that almost 50% of people are uncomfortable talking about disability at work. And it’s not just non-disabled people worrying about how to talk about disability—the study found that many people with disabilities would avoid discussing their disability or asking for accommodations to be made in case it harms their career. This is despite 70% of disabled people feeling that their place of work doesn’t do enough to make work accessible.
All of this points to a failing of communication—disability simply isn’t talked about enough at work and the result is disabled people being made to feel uncomfortable which can only negatively affect their performance, and your business as a whole. The good news is that, as a means of giving disabled people a voice at your company, your employer communications offer a solution.
Let’s look at ways to improve your communications that will spark conversations about disability and help people with disabilities reach their full potential.
Disabled representation in focus groups
Celebrating the stories of disabled employees
Review existing communications
Employee focus groups involve a selected group of employees coming together to share opinions and information that the business can learn from. They’re an important vehicle for generating new business ideas and they can tell you what your communications, both internal and external, should be talking about.
It’s important that disabled people are represented within focus groups so that you can learn what’s important to them. This will help you generate ideas that appeal to disabled people, and develop more effective ways of attracting disabled talent to your organisation. It’ll also help you develop internal comms that cement inclusion as a part of your workplace culture and help retain talented people with disabilities already working at your business.
According to the CEO of Celebrating Disability—a company that educates businesses on disability and inclusion—”awareness leads to inclusion”. And building awareness is exactly what celebrating and sharing the stories of people with disabilities is all about. Making content created by disabled people part of your communications strategy is a great way to do this.
Use your focus groups to help identify an employee with a disability who would be willing to share their experiences in written, video, podcast or whatever medium suits them best. Content could relate to the candidate journey of the business but be careful that you don’t limit those with disabilities to content concerned with disability issues. Inclusion isn’t just about giving disabled people a voice, it’s about ensuring those with disabilities are able to celebrate successes just like any other member of the team—your content should reflect that.
You can also look outside of your organisation for stories about people with disabilities and their achievements. Get involved with events and webinars on disability, ensuring that attendance is open to all employees. Participating in the wider conversation about disability will help inspire ideas that help you in your inclusion journey and demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to DE&I issues.
Assign a team to review your communications to give you different perspectives on them and—of course—make sure disabled people make up as large a proportion of that team as possible. This will highlight inclusivity issues with your communications and demonstrate an authentic commitment to inclusivity.
Think about the language you use in your content. Are you using ableist language that might be a turnoff for talented people with disabilities? Do your homework and make sure you’re using language that’s up to date and inclusive. While you’re at it, do some research into optimising your content for screen readers—it’s no good using the right language if those it’s aimed at aren’t able to understand it.
Is your content monotonous? Even if your content uses all the latest language, if it’s all written by one person or from one perspective it will undermine the message of diversity and inclusivity. Your recruitment marketing agency can advise you on how to develop employer communications that represent disabled people as part of a wider DE&I content strategy.
Looking for something else to read? Check out our blog on overview of disability inclusion in the workplace.