‘Building Back Better’ for International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This week the newest member of our team, Michelle, shares their insights on how COVID-19 has impacted the disabled community and how we can continue to support our disabled colleagues during these challenging times. 

Hello!!!  My name is Michelle Daltry, and I am a new Senior Inclusion and Diversity Consultant with Inclusive Employers.  With 19 years of experience working in disability and parasport, it is perhaps not surprising that I am particularly passionate about the genuine inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of society and particularly within workplaces.

Thursday 3 December is the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Introduced in 1992, the IDPD aims to promote the rights and well-being of disabled people across society. In what has been one of the most challenging years of recent times, this year’s theme is ‘Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World.’

Whilst Covid-19 has brought huge challenges to us all, research into the impact of the pandemic on specific communities has demonstrated some worrying themes.  In a recent ONS survey nearly two-thirds (62.4%) of disabled people said coronavirus (COVID-19) related concerns were affecting their wellbeing compared with nearly half (49.6%) of non-disabled adults.

However, not all our Covid learning is negative.  Agile / homeworking has brought unexpected benefits to some employees and communities when it comes to inclusion.  Companies have refocused on the wellbeing and welfare of staff and we have had an opportunity to review how we work and perhaps more importantly why we have always done things in particular ways and if this is necessary the way forward in 2020.

As we rebuild and refocus for what is hopefully a more positive 2021, it is important that this learning is not forgotten.  For some disabled people, a reduced (or even zero commute) is hugely beneficial, widening the talent pool of people who may apply for roles with you.  Existing disabled employees may have found they are more productive, with technology breaking down many barriers that they may have previously found hampered their working day. 

All of this obviously comes with a health warning!  We must continue to speak to people and learn from their experiences, is the technology we have at our disposal genuinely accessible, are some disabled employees adversely affected by this revised way of working?

My ask of you as we approach this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is that why we continue to be curious, share our own experiences and learn from those of others.  We must ensure that any revised working approaches are appropriately reviewed for any impact (both positive and negative) upon ALL employees and that we ‘Build Back Better’ with a genuinely inclusive approach to the workplace environment.