Accessibility Policy and Diversity in the Workforce

Group of co-workers showing diversity with various races, a wheelchair, a blind person with cane, someone on crutches

Best accessibility policies

Most companies have an accessibility policy and diversity policy guiding how they work with and accommodate job applicants and employees with disabilities. Successful companies know that a diverse workforce provides insights that furnish unique and creative approaches to problem-solving. While most accessibility policies include basics like prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ability, gender, religion, etc., the more successful corporations take additional measures to ensure they have a diverse and unique workforce. 

IBM

IBM has a long history of inclusive hiring practices, starting in 1914- more than 75 years before the ADA was signed into law. The tagline for their accessibility services department is “It’s not about them, it’s about all of us.” 

IBM uses a simple and independent method for employees to select which accommodations they need to be successful in their positions. An internal website called the Accessibility Workplace Connection allows employees to quickly and easily select in-house accessibility solutions like sign-language interpreters for meetings, screen readers, or Braille displays. This gives employees more control of their workplace needs while allowing privacy.

IBM also has created a social media-style productivity suite called IBM Connections 3.0.1 that utilizes extensive accessibility features so all employees can stay in contact with one another and call on each other’s expertise. IBM Connections is used internally for all employees to successfully communicate with one another.

CVS

CVS develops relationships with vocational rehabilitation agencies, nonprofits, and schools to provide job coaching, mentoring, training, and support for employees with developmental, intellectual, and visual impairments. This program is called Abilities in Abundance and helps to ensure people with disabilities can achieve meaningful employment. CVS recognizes that often people with disabilities don’t receive the training necessary to find and sustain employment due to unfairly low expectations. 

Facebook

Facebook, like many other companies, uses employee resource groups to raise awareness about issues facing “differently-abled” employees both internally and in the community. Facebook strives to build teams that are  “rich in cognitive diversity” to ensure that their products are usable, relevant, and enjoyable for everyone.

Facebook offers inclusion training to its managers. This helps managers ensure all team members feel valued, equalizes bias, and levels the playing field for everyone. Facebook also offers employee training called Be the Ally.  This training focuses on addressing both conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace and practicing standing up for others to build an inclusive workplace.

Hershey’s

Hershey’s is another company that uses business resource groups for their employees to find and develop a unique variety of talent. Abilities First is Hershey’s business resource group for employees with disabilities, and it has earned them awards for excellence in employment practices for individuals with disabilities.

Merck, Inc. 

Merck, Inc. takes the idea of an employee resource group one step further by assembling Global Constituency Groups. These groups, consisting of  20 senior leaders, recommend changes to talent development or business practices to enhance a culture of inclusivity within the company. Additionally, Merck uses seven traditional employee resource groups which help to connect employees with mentors from similar backgrounds.

Microsoft

Autism/ Ability Hiring Program

Microsoft has created a specific program to target hiring people with autism, for whom traditional interview processes don’t accurately assess work competencies. Instead, Microsoft has an in-depth process where people with autism are assessed.  Applicants are next invited to participate in minor projects with real Microsoft teams. Based on previous success, those with autism are especially encouraged to apply for technical roles including software, service, and support engineers, data scientist roles, and program managers.

 Building on the success of the Autism Hiring Program, Microsoft implemented a similar program for applicants with other disabilities as well called Microsoft Ability Hiring Events. Both events focus on identifying each applicant’s talents and career skills, not their ability to interview.

Supported Employment

Microsoft works with employment agencies and vendors to employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at Microsoft locations around the world in a program called Supported Employment. They identify the unique skills of each employee and match them to a job for which they would be well suited, such as office staff, cafe ambassador, laboratory technician, or facility inspector.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual insurance begins recruiting diverse potential candidates from an early age through the Liberty Mutual Student Diversity Symposium. This event is hosted for college students in their freshman, sophomore, or junior years who want to promote diversity and inclusion on their college campuses and in the workplace. The goal is for students to have the tools to begin a dialogue on their college campuses about diversity and inclusion, and also encourages participants to apply for internships at Liberty Mutual Insurance.

L’Oreal

L’Oreal, an international behemoth in the beauty world, values diversity as an asset. Because of its international appeal across 23 different brands, L’Oreal relies on a diverse workforce to assure its brands are appealing to the widest possible range of cultures and groups. The company relies on three key factors to ensure diversity: commitment, partnership, and metrics.

To demonstrate its commitment, L’Oreal developed an extensive Ethics Charter, which is a code of ethical conduct for all employees. It joined the World Pact and The Charter of Diversity, which are international organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and other human rights in labor practices. L’Oreal has implemented Global Management Groups consisting largely of HR managers to evaluate and create policies for diversity, and additional groups called Observatories, which put those policies into practice in the field.

L’Oreal’s diverse disability initiatives focus on four major points, including recruitment and retention, partnership with sector companies, raising awareness, and ensuring the company is both physically and digitally accessible to those with disabilities. To ensure compliance with these goals among their 23 brands L’Oreal launched an awards program called “Initiatives for Disabilities.”

Get Creative

Many of the world’s most successful companies rely on the diverse insights and experiences of employees from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, and abilities. To ensure they’re attracting the best talent from any background, these companies foster an inclusive culture so that all employees feel comfortable, supported, and accommodated. Successful inclusion strategies involve employee resource groups so that people with similar backgrounds can support one another.  This ensures that the hiring process highlights an applicant’s career skills, and partnering with outside organizations encourages the success of all employees.

Ready to create opportunities for diversity and inclusion in your workplace? Equidox is happy to help

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Nina Overdorff

Nina comes to Onix with years of sales and marketing experience from a variety of industries, and holds a BS in Language Arts Education. Nina has a passion for words, storytelling, and information, which she believes everyone should have access to regardless of ability. After spending time as a teacher with a blind student, she became much more aware of the limitations and abilities of web accessibility, and how essential it is to those experiencing disabilities. “Being able to access information equally ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity for education, employment, and success in life.”