The benefits of diversity in the workplace have been proven in multiple studies but when we look at the statistics we learn we have quite a way to go. Particularly when it comes to the integration of people with disabilities.
A disability in the workplace is any impairment that requires some accommodation by an employer to allow their employee to succeed in their role. Although disabilities are complex and varied in nature, many of them fall under a number of broad categories:
1. Physical disabilities
This includes mobility, physiological or functional impairments that impact a person’s daily life. Physical disabilities can be present from birth or they may be acquired. The impact of a physical disability can fluctuate or may be constantly present. It may also be chronic, stable or progressive. Multiple Sclerosis or muscular dystrophy are just two examples of a disability that may be progressive and likely to fluctuate. Vision and hearing impairments are physical disabilities that can vary significantly from person to person. In many instances treatment for physical disabilities is limited and likely to focus on pain management, stabilising a condition or enhancing ability.
2. Mental health disabilities
The WHO estimate that one in four people globally will be affected by a mental health issue at some stage in their lives. Like physical disability mental health conditions are varied in nature and duration. It is only in the last number of decades that we are beginning the long journey towards viewing mental health as another facet of human wellbeing.
Some of the most common mental health issues include mood disorders like depression, anxiety and eating disorders, and can be treatable. However, depending on location and socioeconomic factors treatment options may be limited. In recent times some employers are making treatment more accessible for employees through the provision of Employee Assistance Schemes.
3. Acquired disability
While many disabilities are present from birth others occur during a person’s lifetime. Accidents, injury or illness may leave an employee with an acquired disability. There is not a definitive list of acquired disabilities, but they can include:
They can be both seen or unseen and may require varying degrees of accommodation within the workplace.
4. Unseen disabilities
An unseen disability is a condition that cannot be seen on the outside but they still challenge the person impacted. Examples of an unseen or invisible disability include chronic pain conditions, fatigue, epilepsy or diabetes. Like all other disabilities, having a condition like this does not mean a person is disabled, they just need to manage work and life differently to those who do not.
There are many ways in which your business can create a disability friendly workplace so that people with disabilities have the opportunity to use their skills and abilities to help your company reach its goals.
If your business sends employees on international assignment, protect their health and wellbeing with international health insurance including our expat assistance programme.