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How to Help Employees with Disabilities Advance in Your Organization

Many organizations are working toward inclusive environments. However, helping your employees establish confidence and reliance to move forward in their careers is of utmost importance to achieving real inclusion. Without growth, one cannot take on more challenges, learn new skills, or simply advance within their field. This can be especially true if an employee has a disability. A recent SHRM article written based on a 2021 report from Mercer and Global Disability Inclusion states that overall, employees with disabilities are less confident that their skills will be used effectively or that their employer will trust them to use sound judgment when performing their jobs as a manager, how can you help ensure all employees can advance? Here are a few tips.

Make the Workplace a Welcoming Environment for Employees with Disabilities

To set up your employees with disabilities for success, it’s important to create an environment they can grow and thrive. While being aware of your employee’s disability is a start, making a workplace truly welcoming is the first step to helping them advance in their career. According to Forbes, beyond good intentions and the administrative competence to be ADA compliant, there are informal ways employers can help make the workplace more inviting.

- Discourage ableist language. Avoid using seemingly harmless but corrosive labels and adjectives such as dumb or crazy.

- Don’t allow employees to make jokes regarding disabilities, even if a disabled employee says it’s fine.

- Make sure all company events, both formal and informal, are accessible.

- Allow each disabled employee to control the terms of their confidentiality and/or disclosure with other staff.

- Teach employees appropriate ways to express concern and offer help to employees with disabilities.

- Deal immediately with gossip and insulting comments that could be seen as discriminatory.

Know Your Resources for Disabled Employees

To be the best manager of your employees with disabilities, it's essential to understand the laws in place to protect them. Having a basic understanding of disability laws and best practices can help you and your employee. EEOC Disability-Related Resources provides a guide to the overview of disability laws.

Your employees with disabilities deserve to be treated with equal respect and fairness. The best course to take when managing employees with disabilities is to have clear and open communication about what they need to succeed. Whether it’s additional training, time, or physical needs such as chair height, easier paths across the office, or more.

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