As a business owner, you constantly work to make the best decisions for your company and your employees. With so many moving parts to juggle, it can be tricky to find a balance where employees are cared for and satisfied, and the company gains as well. One simple way to up the caliber of your organization while also doing right by your staff? Focus on accessibility and inclusivity.
If you create a workplace that is proactive in its approach to inclusivity of folks with disabilities, you can reap the immense benefits that come along with a diverse professional community. Folks with different experiences can offer unique perspectives that enhance your mission and help you meet your goals in innovative ways. By prioritizing the inclusion of all communities in your workplace, you’ll also improve your company culture and make your organization an incredible place to work for everyone.
Here are a few top tips to make your business more accessible and inclusive.
Forethought Goes a Long Way
A great way to begin your journey towards a more accessible workplace is to take an honest and curious look around. From what you already know about the importance of accessibility, where may your organization fall short? Noticing the immediate areas for improvement can put the tasks at hand in perspective and give you some concrete actions to take right off the bat.
For example, if an employee in your company uses a service animal on a regular basis, do they have adequate space for their dog and all the service dog supplies they need throughout the day? While it may not be legally required for you to take these minute details into account, these small observations can lead to adjustments that improve your staff’s day-to-day quality of life.
Ensure ADA Compliance
After that initial assessment of your workplace, check to see if your current operations are up to par with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. ADA mandates that businesses and public spaces all meet basic standards of accessibility in an attempt to ensure equity for folks with disabilities. This includes things like table and counter heights that are accessible and hallway widths that can accommodate mobility equipment like wheelchairs and walkers.
ADA also has specific mandates with regard to service animals. With proper licensure, employees that need the assistance of service animals are legally allowed to have those pets accompany them to work and other public and private spaces. ADA compliance should be the bare minimum standard of accessibility for your business, ensuring these benchmarks are met first and foremost.
Turn to the Experts
When in doubt, it is always best to seek guidance from organizations or individuals who advocate for the inclusion of disabilities in the workplace. It is OK if you feel lost in the process, and it is better to ask for help in crafting policies and standards within your organization from the get-go. If you feel comfortable, ask employees with disabilities in your workplace what they need to feel included and safe in the office. Listen to their experiences and follow their lead since they know more about their own experience than anyone else.
Another great time to turn to experts for help – training. Investing in training for the entirety of your staff will ensure that everyone understands and is supportive of those with disabilities within your workplace. Once this type of training becomes standard practice in your workplace, discussions around disability will be normalized. Those who have specific accessibility needs will feel empowered and supported in asking for what they need.
You don’t need to be an expert to make your business accessible and inclusive for folks of all abilities. By prioritizing ADA compliance and training, listening to the needs of your staff, and planning ahead, you can make your company a welcoming and successful place for everyone to work.
Interesting related article: “What is Compliance?“