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Creating an inclusive company culture for those with disabilities

Company culture is the foundation of any successful business, but it often gets a reputation of only being about the ‘cool’ and ‘quirky’ things you do in the workplace. 

Talk about company culture, and people presume it includes bean bags, ping pong tables, and maybe even a nap pod. But company culture goes beyond the fun work perks. Company culture is the way your business behaves and acts that represent your vision and values. 

By working on your company culture, you create a space where people and business can thrive together. Yet, company culture is one of the most overlooked areas of business. 

In a study by Deloitte, 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important. Which means people are now more aware and switched on about how they wish to feel at work than ever before in our workplace history. 

If you want to attract the best people and create innovative business, then a key feature of your company culture has to be inclusivity. 

Inclusivity is the full and successful integration of a diverse range of people into the workplace. 

While inclusive cultures may make a commitment to diversity, in particular, a truly inclusive culture indicates an environment where respect, equality, and positive recognition are all cultivated.

In an inclusive culture, social differences, disability and ethnic differences pose no barrier to the employment experience. 

To support you in building an inclusive company culture, especially for those with disabilities, here are a few key areas you can begin to work on. 

Make Your Brand Relatable 

A group of people from an inclusive company - one with a disability - drinking and talking

If you want to show that your company culture is inclusive, then this also has to be demonstrated in your branding. 

Unfortunately, many organisations say they are inclusive, but don’t action their values into their culture. This starts right at the point of branding. 

The images and photos you create of your organisation and your service or product should represent your company’s culture. 

One great example of a business doing inclusive disability well is the energy company Bulb. Over the past few years, they have not only included disabled people in their marketing materials, but they have also updated their business operations to be more user-friendly for those with hearing or eyesight impairments. 

If your company culture is inclusive, show it. People want to be able to relate to the company they are working for, and believe that the company’s mission and values are something they can work towards. 

Broaden Your Recruitment Strategy 

When many organisations seek to recruit new people, it is easy to use a recruitment agency who can do all the hard work for you. 

However, not all recruitment agencies are well-equipped to support you in building an inclusive culture, and they are not living and breathing your company values in the same way. 

Alongside using a recruitment agency, look to build your own recruitment strategy that gives disabled candidates the opportunity to apply. This can be done by creating an inclusive careers page on your website and partnering with charities and support groups who can send job applications to potential candidates. 

Enhance Your Remote Working Capabilities 

A fundamental part of your company culture is the workplace environment, as this represents your values and vision in a physical sense. 

As well as making your office and workspace accessible for those with disabilities, it’s also essential you look outside the office space and at your policies around flexible and remote working. 

In some cases, those with disabilities may not always be able to make it into the office space, and therefore you need to have the most supportive remote working and flexible working practices to help people who may need extra support. 

Remove Assumptions 

If you’re just starting to build an inclusive company culture, it can be hard to know what’s the right or wrong thing to do. Even in regards to the language, you use around disabled people, or the expectations you have. 

The unconscious bias is, unfortunately, what holds many employers back from building an inclusive company culture. But studies continue to show, the more diverse your business culture, the greater the success of the business. 

To help ease you into building your inclusive company culture look to take part in workplace disability training for you and your team. There are many charities and foundations that offer this type of training who can help you to remove unhelpful assumptions and be able to create a culture where you understand the needs of disabled employees much better. 

By Lizzie Benton, Founder and Culture Consultant at Liberty Mind Ltd.

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