Accessibility has always been important, but it hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves in the workplace. Now that there’s a spotlight on inclusivity and accessibility when it comes to consumerism and marketing, that’s quickly carrying over into hiring practices. If you’re not currently considering how to make your recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes more accessible for people with disabilities, it’s time to start.
Let’s cover a few common accessibility barriers that can discourage individuals with disabilities from seeking work in the first place. Once you have an idea of those challenges, you can develop hiring strategies designed to welcome those individuals and foster a company culture committed to equity.
Start by auditing your current recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes. The more positive, inclusive changes you’re able to make, the easier it will be for your business to combat the stigmas about people with disabilities. You’ll quickly become known as a company with a positive, inclusive culture. Not only will that improve employee retention, but it can attract top talent, too.
But, what should your audit look like? We’ve got a few ideas to help you get started.
Updating Your Web Presence
Your company website is likely the first place someone will go to find out more about you. That’s true from a marketing standpoint as well as in the HR field. If someone is interested in working for you, or even if they already have an interview set up, they’ll check out your website to get some background information on the company and to get more familiar with the public-facing side of your business.
So, if your web presence isn’t up to digital accessibility standards, you could be making a negative first impression before a potential employee even gets to know you.
Not sure whether your website is where it needs to be in terms of digital accessibility? Use the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as your guide. It was published in 1999 as a resource for brands to extend their reach by meeting web accessibility standards. It’s also a resource that is constantly updating and changing as technology continues to advance, so make sure your design team is always up-to-date with the latest in web accessibility practices. To get started, you can look at existing factors on your site that might not be as accessible as they should be. Some of the easiest things to change quickly include:
- Using content management systems that support accessibility
- Creating easy-to-read content
- Designing forms for accessibility
- Using alt text for images
- Using correct headings to structure content
Whether you want potential employees to apply for jobs online or you want them to be able to learn more about your business, having an accessible website will help you make a strong, healthy first impression.
Don’t stop with your website, either. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to make social media platforms more accessible, too. Facebook and Instagram both offer accessibility pages that can help businesses educate themselves on the latest accessibility features they can put into practice.
Understand the Needs of PWDs
The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), is the government organization focused on
the activities, issues, and concerns related to persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Phillippines. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities are still hesitant to bring up accommodations they might need in the workplace for fear of being judged or rejected.
Section 4 of the Republic Act No. 7277, also known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, was ratified in 1992 as a way to ensure that PWDs are given the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Equal opportunity for employment of PWDs is ensured in Section 5 of the Act, which states that: “No person with disability shall be denied access to opportunities for suitable employment. A qualified employee with disability shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment and the same compensation, privileges, benefits, fringe benefits, incentives or allowances as a qualified able bodied person.”
As a hiring manager or someone in human resources, it’s essential to understand the basic needs and employment rights of PWDs, as well as some reasonable accommodations that employees might ask for, including:
- Large-print materials
- Assistive technology
- Flexible lighting
- Alternative work schedules
For someone with a disability to make these requests, they need to understand their condition, identify different accommodation options, and be prepared to have a discussion about those options.
As you might expect, it can be incredibly nervewracking for someone who is looking for a job to start making these requests. You can ease their worries and make the hiring and onboarding process much more comfortable by assuring potential hires that you’re more than willing to reasonably accommodate their needs. It’s a great way to showcase your company culture from the beginning and create a positive employee experience immediately.
Be Proactive With Accommodations
Your goal should be to market a workplace environment that is positive, healthy, and inclusive to everyone before you even start recruiting. It’s not enough to let potential employees know you’ll accommodate their needs. Instead, make inclusivity and accessibility major parts of your culture. Showing future employees that you care about their well-being will make the entire recruitment process easier. Plus, there are countless benefits for your business.
For example, employees who require alternative work schedules or need to work remotely are likely to be more productive and satisfied with their daily workload. Those who need assistive technology can provide the motivation your business needs to invest in advanced tech to move your brand forward. Even the physical accessibility of your business should be a priority. Wheelchair ramps, open spaces that are easy to maneuver, and large-print or braille-equipped signs all over your office are great ways to start and can make a positive impression on a new employee right away.
Promoting equality, diversity, and inclusivity in the workplace is essential for the longevity of your business. Working in HR, you’re the first department a new employee will deal with. Make sure they know from the very beginning the kind of culture they can expect, and continue to make positive changes to your processes as regulations and best practices shift.