December 3rd is the International Day of People with Disabilities. The interest in creating more inclusive environments is at an all-time high, but at the same time, there is a lack of praxis-oriented guidelines – especially with regards to an inclusion of employees with intellectual disabilities at workplaces – as a recent survey shows. As part of a partnership with the organization Special Olympics, our client Skillsoft has published the survey results today, which highlighted a potential gap in workplace policies around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
The more than 1000 survey participants were comprised of primarily professionals in the HR and learning space. The results provide insight into how HR leaders across industries think about inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the workplace. Three overarching themes were identified: low awareness surrounding intellectual disabilities in the workplace, support for intellectual disability inclusion, and a demand for company policies to be backed up by action.
Lack of Understanding
Survey results indicate that respondents do not understand how to make their workplace more accessible for people with intellectual disabilities and why doing so is important to achieving full inclusion. Though the vast majority (88 percent) of respondents work for companies with a diversity and inclusion policy, 55 percent were not confident their organization had any guidance related to intellectual disabilities.
Support for Inclusion
Although employees indicated that they are willing and ready to learn more about inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, their efforts could fall behind without proper training. While 81 percent of respondents suggest their colleagues would be at least somewhat supportive in the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, there is still hesitation. The survey found 33 percent of respondents’ biggest concern is how people without an intellectual disability would engage with those who do have an intellectual disability.
Results also indicate there is a demand for change. 93 percent of respondents believe that becoming an inclusive organization would help company culture. In fact, 76 percent of respondents report they expect their management or leadership would be supportive of becoming more inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities.
Action Requires a Prescriptive Path
The key to meaningful change is a focus on developing a policy that is backed by action. Even in organizations with thoroughly designed DEI policies, inclusive behaviors must go beyond policies and statements. To be meaningfully inclusive will require a concerted effort to provide training and information to employees. The timing for change is right: in a follow-up survey, 63 percent of survey respondents indicated they were interested in creating a more inclusive culture.
The survey results are available for download at www.skillsoft.com/special-olympics-inclusion-without-exceptions.
Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement dedicated to empowering people with intellectual disabilities through sport. Since 2015, Special Olympics has worked with Skillsoft to develop trainings, career maps, and learning solutions to empower leaders with and without intellectual disabilities with the skills to create more inclusive communities and workplaces.
“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – growing interest but lack of guidelines” by Wibke Sonderkamp.