Inclusive cultures extend beyond basic or token presence of workers who have disabilities. They encompass both formal and informal policies and practices, and involve several core values:
Inclusive policies contain provisions and guidelines that support the full integration of all employees, including those with disabilities, into an equitably functioning workplace. An inclusive policy may be one that is specifically geared towards eliminating discrimination or facilitating diversity. Or it may be related to any kind of structural or personnel issue, such as workforce training, parking, employee benefits, communications, or work procedures. It may or may not include specific language about the inclusion of specific resources for people with disabilities.
The measure of whether a policy is inclusive is, essentially, its outcome – meaning that when the policy is implemented as intended, it helps to generate a work environment in which no employees are excluded, marginalized, treated unfairly, or prevented from accessing any resources, responsibilities, opportunities or benefits of employment. (Some model policies are available in the ‘Employer Demand Toolkit’.)
In addition, workplace policies need to carefully plan for the provision of reasonable accommodations. When assessing the effectiveness of existing accommodations policies, employee experiences can be described based on two measures of equity. The first involves the perception of “procedural justice”, meaning that employees with disabilities perceive the accommodations policy as fair, accessible, and functional. (4) The second, “interactional justice,” (5) refers to the experience of feeling that the managers or colleagues with whom one is interacting are behaving fairly, reasonably, and respectfully. (6) For more information see our brief: Reasonable Accommodation Policies & Practices.
More tools and resources related to developing a positive and disability-inclusive workplace, including an Inclusive Culture Checklist and the “Inclusive Culture and the Workplace” webinar are available at the Demand-Side Employment Placement Models project website.
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