Celebrating Disability Pride Month This July

July is an important month for celebrating diversity and inclusion, as it marks Disability Pride Month. This annual observance is dedicated to promoting acceptance, understanding, and advocacy for individuals with disabilities. In the context of the workplace, Disability Pride Month serves as a powerful reminder to prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives that create environments where everyone can thrive, and the diversity of able and non-able-bodied individuals is an important area that is often overlooked.

Recognizing Diversity of Ability

Disability Pride Month provides an opportunity to recognize the diverse talents, skills, and perspectives that individuals with disabilities bring to the workplace. Embracing diversity means acknowledging and valuing these differences, whether they are visible or invisible disabilities. You see, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) states that an individual with a disability is a person who “Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.” But the diversity of dis/abilties goes beyond this, and it’s important to understand.

  • According to Careers with Disabilities, visible disabilities are “the disabilities we can easily see and detect. It is much easier to tell that an employee is disabled if their disability is visible. Issues including disclosure won’t be relevant to these employees, as they might to employees with invisible disabilities.”
  • According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, an invisible disability is “a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities. Unfortunately, the very fact that these symptoms are invisible can lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions, and judgments.”

By fostering an environment that understands, welcomes, and appreciates diverse abilities, organizations can tap into a wealth of untapped potential and unlock innovative solutions.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion

Disability Pride Month also calls for a focus on equity and inclusion in the workplace. Equity involves ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access to opportunities, resources, and support, enabling them to thrive in their roles. Inclusion, on the other hand, means creating a sense of belonging where employees with disabilities are actively involved, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. Organizations can achieve this by implementing inclusive policies, providing reasonable and encompassing accommodations, and offering comprehensive accessibility measures. You need to know where, when, and how to provide accommodations, both physical and nonphysical. The place to start is by keeping in check with your employees, through both one-on-one connections and wider company pulse checks. The experts at Careers with Disabilities state, “If you are openly and genuinely accessible from the first time you speak to a candidate, you set a great precedent going forward.”

Breaking Down Barriers

Disability Pride Month encourages organizations to identify and dismantle any barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from fully participating in the workplace. This can involve addressing physical barriers, such as inaccessible facilities, as well as attitudinal barriers, such as biases and misconceptions. By fostering a culture of understanding, empathy, and education, workplaces can create an inclusive environment where employees with disabilities feel safe, valued, and supported. A great way to do this is to hold collaborative learning opportunities with leaders and employees alike. An accessible method is through effective e-Learning opportunities like BridgeWorks’ Immersion Learning Series designed to meet individuals and organizations wherever they are on their Inclusive Leadership journeys

Building Belonging

Belonging is the culmination of effective DEIB efforts. It signifies a workplace environment where individuals with disabilities are not just present but actively involved and valued. Organizations can foster belonging by promoting open communication, celebrating achievements, and cultivating a culture of respect and appreciation for the diverse range of talents and abilities present within the workforce.

The Invisible Disabilities Association sets it straight: “just because a person has a disability, does not mean they are disabled.” Diversity is great for the workplace. A diversity of abilities and perspectives can be a powerful boost to your organization. As we celebrate Disability Pride Month, it is essential to remember that promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace benefits not only individuals with disabilities but the entire organization. By embracing diverse abilities and breaking down barriers, organizations can create truly inclusive workplaces that drive innovation, foster collaboration, and empower all employees to thrive.