The world is a diverse place, having your workplace represent that is a positive step. When you first consider hiring someone with a disability, it may feel overwhelming, which is why many employers try and avoid it.
Remember, labor laws prohibit discrimination against someone with a disability — you cannot refuse to hire someone capable of the job because they have a disability. You also must make reasonable allowances for them to do their job.
Here are some things you can do to make your workplace welcoming for a disabled employee:
- Check the language used in your workplace: Most people use a lot of phrases in their day-to-day speech, without listening to the actual words or thinking about their meaning. Some of these phrases could make a disabled person feel uncomfortable, for example: “That party was mental,” “The referee made a dumb decision,” or shouting, “Are you deaf,” at someone with their headphones on.
- Think about any out-of-work events you have: Your workplace may have great accessibility, but if you take everyone out for office drinks, to a bar without adequate access, you could unintentionally make an employee feel excluded.
- Make allowance for different communication styles: Not all disabilities are physical or immediately apparent. If someone has a speech impediment, it may take them longer to say something. Certain cognitive disabilities could mean someone comes across as curt without meaning to.
Creating an inclusive workplace can reduce the likelihood of an employee filing a claim of discrimination against you and make for a happier workplace.