How are Businesses Adapting for Disabled Workers?
The 21st Century: Diversity and Inclusivity
The 21st century has brought about positive sociocultural changes of diversity, inclusivity and equality. Sexuality, race and religion are among the many areas affected by the shift in attitude towards minorities.
People with disabilities are also a cause of focus, with television being a useful medium in helping to change peoples’ pre-conceptions. This year, English Paralympian Jonnie Peacock changed his trainers for dancing shoes as he took part in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
However, there is still a long way to go for disabled people to gain true equality in many areas of life. Whilst accessibility for disabled people is improving, huge challenges and obstacles remain, meaning that there are still real barriers to disabled people being able to their lives to the extent and potential of those without a disability.
Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
A particular cause for concern is workplace disability discrimination – where workplaces are poorly equipped or prepared for employing people with disabilities. A study by Citizens Advice Cymru found that just 43% of disabled people of working age were in employment between 2015 and 2016. It also found that the mental well-being of disabled people is negatively affected by employers’ lack of knowledge and awareness regarding disabilities. A key sticking point for employers is what constitutes a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to workplace conditions or practices for disabled people, and how they might be put into place.
How can Businesses Adapt?
If you are a business owner, you may not know where to start to help ensure your business is well-equipped for disabled workers. However, it is easier than you might think to bring your business closer to being an accessible environment.
Whilst disabilities do vary, and each individual case requires bespoke treatment, there are ways to ensure disabled people are able to do their job. This may include making a few small changes to the layout of the working environment or changing the location of equipment. Here are three ways you can easily make your workplace well-equipped for disabled people.
- Ensuring your workplace has good general access – particularly from the outside – is a good start; installing a ramp where necessary breaks down the initial barrier for people with mobility issues.
- Most computers already have accessible features pre-installed. You will need to change settings to ensure that the computer is fit for purpose – this may include changing the screen resolution, for example. Bespoke hardware and software is also widely available.
- If your workplace requires or provides its own transport – for example a company car – you may feel that it would be both financially unviable and difficult to acquire a bespoke vehicle for disabled people. However, cost-effective solutions are available from specialised transport providers, such as Allied Fleet. Leasing and contract hires ensure there are options to suit your business, in terms of both its budget and other practical requirements.
Despite the fact that much still needs to be done to help disabled people gain true equality, employers’ awareness is improving through the media and work of charities; the key lies in educating business owners. Charities are working to ensure businesses are well prepared, and that making workplaces suitable for disabled people is not an afterthought, but an integral aspect of day-to-day working practices; this all serves as a timely reminder of businesses’ duty of care over their entire workforce.
There is a sense that the positive changes to the treatment of minorities is gathering momentum.
Although there are obstacles to ensuring disabled people are treated with equality and sensitivity, help is often available at a price that your business can afford.