Disability in the workplace – how should you approach it?

The Business Disability Forum (BDF) has released a new guide detailing the language employers and workers should use when discussing disability in the workplace. The guide encourages businesses to breakdown stigma that exists around disability by engaging in meaningful conversations.

Within the guide is advice on using more inclusive and appropriate language in the office and on promotional materials, developing practical ways to include employees and customers in discussions around language, and what to do when language unknowingly causes offence.

Disability language can be a very personal thing and is influenced by many factors including culture, experience and location. Language that works in one situation and place may not work in another. At the same time, employers need to think about how language is used within their brand and the message are they giving out to disabled people about their organisation’s values.

One example from the guide is to avoid using phrases that have negative connotations for disabled people, such as ‘to turn a blind eye’ or ‘it fell on deaf ears’. Another is to avoid asking an employee to “disclose” their disability, instead asking them to “tell us if you have a disability or condition” or simply ask if people need an adjustment.

With language constantly evolving, we know it can be difficult to know where to start. It I hoped that the guide will encourage businesses to start a conversation with an open mind and approach..

121 HR Solutions can provide general guidance to help employers support employees with disabilities. Contact us on 0800 9995 121.

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