Historically, people with a disability have been discriminated against and faced huge barriers in society. The stigma around people with a disability has contributed to their social exclusion, as they statistically face more difficulties in getting work.
How society is structured is undoubtedly disadvantageous to people with a disability. Many societal functions or procedures work off the assumption that people using them are at a full physical and mental ability.
As society evolves, it’s important that we work towards a more inclusive and diverse culture. This is a change that needs to happen on all levels. While we have seen governmental action through schemes like the NDIS, there needs to be a cultural shift towards inclusion.
This means that both on a personal and corporate level, there needs to be a shift in attitudes about the importance of equal opportunity, particularly for people with a disability. Companies and institutions must make a conscious effort to rid their biases and accept those with disabilities.
In many cases, the stigma around disabilities can cause a higher barrier for employment than the disability itself. Many people with a disability are capable of being a part of the workforce and making valuable contributions if given the opportunity.
How the digital evolution is helping social inclusion
The rise of new technologies and the evolution of our digital economy provide big opportunities for the social inclusion of people with a disability. Particularly for those with physical disabilities, the rise of the digital workplace has allowed more employment opportunities and eliminated certain barriers.
Nowadays, there are more jobs than ever that don’t require strenuous physical efforts. Many workplaces simply require a person to sit at their desk and complete their job on a computer. This opens up many opportunities for those with a physical disability.
It’s important that companies recognize the importance of allowing more diversity into the workplace so that more social change can happen.
How can companies change to be more inclusive?
By changing their mindset and enforcing anti-discrimination policies, companies can be a part of our societal evolution. One important step towards inclusion is the hiring of employees who are capable of contributing despite their disabilities.
An immense opportunity for this exists in companies based on digital work. This has been demonstrated by SEO Shark, an Australian digital marketing firm that has opened up their workplace to those with a disability.
By understanding the need for companies to be a part of this societal change, SEO Shark has taken measures to promote their opportunities to a wide range of people.
On 9 February 2018, the managing director of SEO Shark, Lucas Bikowski, received an award under Civic’s 2017 Disability Apprentice Scheme for having the most-open business for disabled employees. Civic is a non-profit organization that has provided services to people with intellectual disabilities, and/or mental health conditions, for almost 60 years.
It’s important for more digital firms to recognize their capacity to be a part of society’s evolution by promoting a progressive and inclusive image. SEO Shark has set an example by ignoring the stigma around disabilities and focusing on what people can do regardless of them.
By employing people with a disability for their skills and contribution to the workplace, SEO Shark is doing what all companies should be – looking past bias and perceived differences and focusing on an employee’s individual abilities.
Social inclusion of people with a disability in the future
The evolution of society through technology, legislation, and structure will bring shifts in culture and beliefs. As people become more aware of the barriers that exist for many disadvantaged groups in society, there will be more action towards solutions and the prevention of discrimination.
However, this is not a change we should wait for – it should be something we continuously work towards. Organizations must set an example in becoming more inclusive and setting aside biases.
Nowadays companies need to recognize their ability to be a part of the change in working towards an equal opportunity workplace. By implementing policies and codes of conduct against discrimination, companies can be a part of the cultural shift towards inclusion.
With the rise of new technologies and the digital workplace, there is now a greater opportunity than ever to change and work towards a better society.
Rather than leaving it to governmental bodies to take action, companies need to be a part of the process in being more inclusive and taking steps to eradicate discrimination.