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Inclusion of Employees with a Disability during COVID-19

Category: disability, Diversity & Inclusion, Disability Awareness, Education Solutions, Disability Inclusion, Disability Access, Disabilities, Wipro

Female employee wearing mask in boardroom setting using mobile device.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis. Organisations across the world have taken vital measures for the wellbeing and safety of their employees and partners during these challenging times.

Although 15% of the world’s population has some or the other form of disability, persons with disability represent a miniscule percentage in the corporate sector. At times like these, they are likely to face more challenges as compared to others due to poor systemic issues, or lack of awareness among employers and society at large. Hence, organisations should make conscious efforts to ensure non-discrimination and  continued inclusion of persons with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Wipro, we have formulated certain guidelines for employers to ensure continued inclusion for employees with disability.

Here are some key steps that organisations can take:

  1. Educate Business Continuity Management (BCM) teams about disability inclusion. Collaborate with them to ensure the processes/services that are devised are accessible to all. For example, the company’s crisis notification tool or the employee assistance program should be made fully accessibility-compliant.
  2. Rekindle the confidence among first line managers of employees with disability. Equip them with feasible tools and solutions to break technological / social / communication barriers for effective virtual engagement. In addition, educate them about the non-discrimination clauses laid down in your country’s legal framework, as well as your organisation’s policies.
  3. It is critical to estimate a budget for reasonable accommodation / support from a safety and convenience standpoint. This is equivalent to providing logistics or any other support to employees.
  4. Educate your customers / external stakeholders about your organisation’s workforce diversity and equitable principles to ensure non-discrimination and equal treatment of employees.
  5. Proactively reach out to all employees who have self-identified themselves as persons with disabilities to check if they are facing any accessibility challenges (new or existing ones), or any specific barriers. Determine any support or reasonable accommodation they may need (such as assistive technology, furniture, among others) to ensure that they can perform their tasks with ease.
  6. In certain instances, it may be a good idea to establish a network among employees with disability themselves. This could enable them to crack any challenges swiftly by leveraging on each other’s strengths. In addition, encourage them to touch base with local disability expert organisations / online forums for specific guidance and support.
  7. Collaborate with your Inclusion and Diversity team / consultants / Human Resources team to devise customised strategies and solutions to handle queries regarding work enablement, career, mental health, reasonable accommodation support, ways to equip managers, and any other concerns.

While it is important to create specific strategies for the wellbeing of employees with disability during this pandemic, it should ultimately be part of the organisation’s BCM’s services. Creating an exclusive service only for employees with disability will defeat the purpose of inclusion.

The above approach is recommended due to the unique challenges experienced by persons with disability and demonstrates fairness.

Let’s ensure that everyone irrespective of their religion, disability, sexual orientation, colour, gender, hierarchy and any other background, receives equitable treatment and are enabled to work well.

Let’s make this world more accessible and inclusive for everyone!

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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