In our everyday life we have our set ideas or perceptions of how things should be, or will turn out. Positive and empowering mindsets have been the bread and butter for the self help book industry since its inception. This idea of if I believe that I can do something or be something or achieve something then with the right mindset I can do that. This same attitude is taught to us as children and we therefore instill it in our own children that with the right mindset and resources we can be successful.
Part of what Wolfensberger taught in his book “A Brief Introduction To Social Role Valorization” was that people will either rise or fall to the expectations we place before them, and that how we perceive an individual or a situation greatly affects their success. There are many ways of relating this to employment and I’m sure many of us would be able to find examples of how this affected us or someone we know.
Think for a moment as if you are a new employee. Imagine if for one reason or another the employer did not believe you could succeed. These reason could be because of gender differences, ethnicity, age, appearances, or perceived disability. If you knew that your employer thought that you couldn’t do the job or were going to fail would you be able to succeed? Maybe, but that employer may also not give you the resources to succeed because of their own mindset about you. Not having the support or the resources would make success close to impossible. As employers, service providers, parents, or even friends it is important that we have high expectations of people and give them the appropriate resources to succeed. It is better for morale, reputation and business in general. People will work harder for you if they think they have your support.
Another important point that Wolfensberger taught was that no matter the challenges a person faces they always have the capability to learn. This is true for everyone across all differences and backgrounds. This was also a key part of Marc Gold’s belief system. He believed that everyone could be taught skills to make them valuable members of society and their workplace. For more information on his work you can visit his website.
Part of what CAES does is to assist employers in changing their perceptions of potential employees and current employees. A huge part of their objective that I observed from my time here has a practicum student was the belief that people with disabilities can and are important members of an employment team, and have a huge role to play. They can, and should be, viewed as important members of our society because of their skills and abilities. Not only does diversifying your workplace benefit that one person you hire who may have a disability, it promotes an accepting community within the organization that accepts all forms of differences. Having an inclusive workplace where all employees are challenged to grow, and given the resources to do so, just makes for better business.