This blog post is written in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
There are many different parts of the workforce. Each aspect creates and adds to its environment and purpose. One part that plays a huge role in the workplace is the individuals with disabilities, who are a part of the whole equation of equity.
But first, what is equity vs. equality?
Although equity and equality sound similar, they are not alike. To properly plan for a more equitable workplace, it’s important to have a strong understanding of how these terms differ.
Equality pursues access to the same resources for all employees, regardless of the obstacles they face. It is a hopeful concept to encourage company culture in the right direction. However, it often fails to address issues of an unreasonable status quo.
Equity is different from equality because it doesn’t provide the same resources and opportunities to everyone. This is due to the recognition that every employee needs different access to resources. With less access comes the potential need for more support in order to take fair chances of opportunities within that company.
Below is another way to explain the difference between equality and equity.
Equity is what levels the playing field, giving all employees an equal opportunity to grow. It is a concept that holds fairness for all employees based on their individual needs.
Employment for those with disabilities means the chance to use their skills, a greater opportunity for financial self-sufficiency, and an opening for more participation in community life. With this, there are now more options for them to choose from. Whereas before, they were limited in what they could engage in.
It is mind altering when you have a choice and can choose for yourself in the workplace.
We all as individuals do our best to be our own advocate, but sometimes a little bit of assistance and encouragement goes a long way. Whether it be from a colleague, a boss or a supportive friend.
I think we can all recall a time when a little bit of support helped us see our way forward, discover our purpose and believe that we can achieve the goals that we set out to do.
In the workplace, here are 7 ways to raise disability awareness:
- Raise marginalized voices
- Hold a learning and social event
- Be the change you wish to see by behaving appropriately
- Create disability trainings for the onboarding process
- Increase the resources you have available
- Provide volunteer opportunities to employees
- Hold a NDEAM kickoff event each year in October
In addition to the workplace itself, there are many organizations striving to raise awareness and help to employ individuals with disabilities.
For 40 years, The National Organization on Disability (NOD) has focused on increasing employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities.
For 35 years, Lifeworks Services Inc. has recognized the importance of advocacy for people with disabilities and continues to create opportunities for a more diverse and inclusive workforce in Minnesota.
The Council on Disability Awareness is one of seven Diversity Councils at the University of Iowa. Their members are engaged in the community and uplift others by sharing lived experiences to advocate for disability rights, inclusion and social justice.
Now, more than ever, is the time to increase access and opportunity.
Empathy and compassion are what can bring all of our challenges to one table. A table where we can hold space for one another and say, I am with you, here and now.
While some may struggle to understand the impacts of trying to find employment with disabilities. Those who actually struggle with it can become so discouraged. And not just about finding a job. Discouraged to reach out to a supportive person, to ask someone to just listen, even if they can’t even begin to comprehend someone else’s obstacles.
As awareness rises, hopefully so will our levels of compassion for a community of people who are just as determined to make an impact and create a fulfilling journey forward.
Macy Cassera is a life coach and freelance writer who helps others rebuild after loss and change so they can create a fulfilling and authentic life full of purpose. To get in touch with Macy, please send her an email or send a message through her official website or Instagram.