Employers have many factors to consider in all aspects of their business. Branding, clientele, profits, bills, and staffing are all huge factors for an employer to consider while trying to have a successful business, as well as many others. For some employers the idea of hiring someone with a disability may seem like far too big of a stress on their business or company. There may be worries employers may have about what kinds of accommodations are needed, the potential extra work involved, misconceptions and preconceived notions about disability. The worries around the unknown around how to promote a truly inclusive environment may act as a deterrent for many to actually follow through.
In her book “30 Ways to Shine As a New Employee“, Denise Bissonnette states
“Most of what we worry about never happens! Worry is not about the present because all of our worries are based on thoughts of the future!…Worry is nothing more than letting your imagination create its own fear-based picture of the future and then reacting to your picture as if it’s real!”
While this book was written for new employees, these same principles can also be applied to employers as well. There can be a lot of fear about the unknown when hiring a person with a disability. A lot of those fears come from misconceptions and stereotypes about disability as a whole and specific conditions. Rather than looking at each person’s strengths and weakness individually, they may get lumped into a group of unknown and undesirables.
Nikki King said it best during a discussion at the DEAM event ‘Let’s Talk Employment – Inclusive Leadership’ when discussing her experience as an employer,
“I didn’t know what I was doing, I just had to jump in with both feet.”
She had made the decision to have an inclusive work environment and jumped into the unknown.
Getting in touch with an organization like CAES can help to fill the knowledge gaps that may arise around inclusion. CAES, like many other organizations, have spent years working with employers to develop inclusive workplaces.
There are plenty of things to worry about in our lives, but having an inclusive, accepting, and positive work environment should not be one of them. Denise Bissonnette wrote,
“Worrying does not keep trouble out of tomorrow; it just keeps joy out of today!”
There are so many benefits to be had from diversifying a work environment. It can be a chance for people to build relationships, learn from each other and feel of value. There are always going to be challenges but Wayne Gretsky said it best, “Statistically – 100% of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in.” So take a shot and work towards creating a better and more inclusive workforce.