How promoting disability inclusion establishes a strong workplace

Panelists at PRWeek’s PRDecoded event outlined steps organizations can take to ensure all individuals are empowered to thrive.

(Clockwise) Crystal Odom-McKinney, Emily Ladau, Betsy Kim and Ben Trockman.
(Clockwise) Crystal Odom-McKinney, Emily Ladau, Betsy Kim and Ben Trockman.

NEW YORK: Accommodating employees with disabilities makes for stronger workplaces, noted panelists at PRWeek’s virtual PRDecoded conference on Wednesday. 

PRWeek senior reporter Betsy Kim moderated the discussion with Emily Ladau, a disability rights activist and editor-in-chief of the Rooted in Rights blog; Ben Trockman, a diversity and inclusion specialist at Old National Bank; and Crystal Odom-McKinney, national director of Easterseals Senior Community Employment Program, which partners with communities and businesses to expand their reach through the training and employment of job seekers.

Ladau pointed out how with the COVID-19 pandemic, corporations provided accommodations to everyone, which people in the disabled community had long been seeking. This included shifts to remote working and flexible schedules.

“What we’re doing to continue those accommodations moving forward [is making sure] they are not ‘accommodations,’” said Ladau, “They are workforce best practices.” 

As another example, Trockman commented, “A fundamental part of leadership is doing the right thing, thinking of everyone at all times.”

During the pandemic, this meant having good and thorough communications with all employees. Companies have made efforts to increase the level of inclusion, especially while people worked from home. 

“Communication, whether you have a disability or not, knowing that you are being talked to and thought about, is incredibly important,” Trockman said. 

Finally, as the pandemic required training with new tools and remote education, this also underscored the importance of equity in preparing all people with job skills and technology—including those with disabilities.

Odom-McKinney noted that properly supporting disabled employees requires training, equipping them with tool boxes to do their jobs and ending inequities in salaries.

You can join PRWeek’s virtual PRDecoded event, which continues through Thursday, and also view all panel sessions on-demand.

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