Freedom Friday: Creating An Inclusive Business Culture

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).  During the month of October, Freedom Friday will highlight “Business Strategies that Work.”

What’s the third largest market segment in the United States? The answer might surprise you. It’s not a particular race, gender, or age group. It’s people with disabilities. The size of this population—54 million strong—surpasses Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as Generation X and teens. Add in their families, friends, and associates, and you get a trillion dollars in purchasing power.

By identifying, adopting, and refining effective and meaningful employment practices that welcome people with disabilities, you too can benefit from having a vibrant, diverse workforce.

Commitment at all levels of an organization is critical to creating and maintaining a truly diverse and inclusive work environment. Establishing an inclusive business culture begins with leadership at the highest levels, including top executives, their leadership teams, and boards of directors. Mid-level managers and supervisors, and particularly human resources staff and other personnel involved in hiring decisions, must also understand the role they play in facilitating an inclusive environment. Finally, communicating the company’s goal of an inclusive and diverse workplace to employees at all levels of the organization and indicating what they can do to help are also extremely important.

Include disability as part of all of the company’s diversity policies and activities. This includes using the words “disability” and “people with disabilities” in statements defining the company’s diversity policies, inviting disability organizations and people with disabilities to the company’s diversity events, and recognizing that people with disabilities are part of the company’s other diverse communities (including racial and ethnic minorities, veterans, and the LGBT community).

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