It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year like no other. For many, notably those with mental health conditions, the challenges can seem overwhelming. And for disabled people already struggling to gain barrier-free access to employment in a ferociously competitive job market, looming unemployment levels are an additional hurdle. As we intensify the support we provide to mitigate these difficulties, we also want to use this International Day of Persons with Disabilities to focus on the surprising positives that have come out of the year’s adversities.
Remote working has altered perceptions
For many disabled people, working from home has been a blessing. Not only has it eased the physical challenges which can be associated with rush hour travel and poorly adapted working environments, it has also given people more control over when they work, for example allowing employees to incorporate rest breaks into their days. And perhaps more importantly, it has altered our assumptions around how work has to be carried out.
Increased focus on disability
At the beginning of the first lockdown, we as an organisation were concerned that the economic impact on employers and resultant budget constraints, would put disability inclusion at the back of the queue. Surprisingly, the reality has been somewhat different. It is difficult to pinpoint precisely why: it may be that organisations have simply had more time to focus on disability; or it may be that being an ethical employer is being recognised as crucial for businesses to survive and thrive in this challenging new environment. Whatever the reasons, we are busier than ever, and have experienced a surge of enquiries from organisations keen to ensure that they are at the forefront of forward-thinking inclusive practices.
Positive impact of Black Lives Matter
EmployAbility unequivocally and unapologetically supports the Black Lives Matter movement in its own right. Our sincere hope is that the momentum continues, and the changes that result are profound and sustained. We also firmly believe that the movement has had and will continue to have a positive impact on disability rights. Individuals and organisations reflecting upon their attitudes and practices, are thinking about diversity in wider and more authentic ways than they have before. Biases tend to co-exist: once we question one, the others begin to fall away.
We must continue to support each other wherever we can, applauding every step forward on the journey to disability-inclusion becoming the norm. With these positives born out of adversity, we can take this day to remind ourselves that despite the very real challenges ahead, the progress being made is real. Let’s build on these positives and momentum – join and make this Next Generation Inclusive Thinking journey yours. No matter who or where you are, add your voice, add your weight.