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  • Writer's picturePeta

What does a disability inclusive workplace actually look like?

Despite how important this question is, it was much harder than expected to answer.

References used for this episode:

24 Companies with Innovative and Award-Winning Accessibility Practices:

Change Conversations Podcast: Episode 3: Invisible Disabilities:

Episode transcript for The Change Conversations Podcast:

(I am disappointed to see this transcript is a PDF. I apologise)

Bloomberg: An open and accessible workplace

Diversity Council of Australia Inclusive Employers: Current and Past:

Diversity Council of Australia Inclusion@Work Index 2021-2022 Report

Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke



Episode Transcript:

Inclusive workplaces_mixdown_01.mp3

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the I Can't Stand podcast. The podcast answering your questions about what life is like when you have a disability. My name's Peter. I have cerebral palsy and I'm your host. This week we're going old school. I'm answering a question I was asked by Jeremy Peter. I hear a lot about inclusive workplaces, but what does an inclusive workplace look like? What a great question. If you have a question and you would like me to answer it for a future episode of the podcast, you can get in contact with me via my Instagram. My handle is at Peter Hook. My email address is Or find my website Okay. Without any further ado, let's get into it.

Peta [00:01:16] Now, for the purposes of this podcast, I'm going to exclusively look at accessibility as far as an employee having a disability and what makes a workplace accessible to people with disabilities. This should be a competitive advantage. This should be something that every organisation strives to do better every day. Through my research, I have been quite astonished by the lack of Australian based examples that I can bring to you as far as what is an accessible, inclusive workplace. Very quickly. Inclusion is defined as respect. Being connected in an organisation and having a feeling of belonging. Progression or progressing. When a diverse amount of people have opportunities to develop their career and progress. And the ability to contribute to the workplace as a valued member. Just so you know, those definitions of inclusion isn't mine. I found it through the Diversity Council of Australia. There'll be heaps of references for this episode, all of which will be linked in the description and also on my website under the episode. Transcript for this particular episode. When I looked at the Diversity Council of Australia, they had a list of Australian companies that are their inclusive employers for 2022 to 2023. It's everything from consultants to energy companies to city councils to Defence Housing Australia. I don't know whether they paid to be on the list or whether it's a legitimate, ethical way that the Diversity Council of Australia awards these companies as the most inclusive employers of the year. But there you go. While it is great that Australia has that list and those organisations held up as the inclusive employers of the year, it didn't go any further than that. It didn't explain why.

Peta [00:03:50] Yes, that just might be my very poor inability to research this topic effectively, or the information isn't easy enough to find. Really. It wasn't until I looked further afield outside of Australia that I found organisations that are really stepping in and being proud of their accessible practises. There is a fantastic organisation that I've come across through my research. It's called the Disability Equality Index, or DJI. The DTI is a comprehensive benchmarking tool that helps companies build a road map of measurable, tangible actions that they can take to achieve disability inclusion and equality throughout their organisation. This, I believe, is a big reason why disability inclusion seems to be more of an accepted thing and more of something that can be benchmarked towards a competitive advantage can be found and something to really be proud of as far as being highlighted as an accessible organisation.

Peta [00:05:12] Microsoft is held up as an extremely, extremely disability inclusion business. I listened to a fantastic podcast which I will list in the description. They have a chief accessibility officer. How exciting. Not only that, Jenny has a disability herself. Jamie spoke about the importance of having a culture of accessibility. Not only do they have many people with disabilities within the organisation, they consult with every employee of all levels as far as what makes either the products that they're producing, the services they're producing, or the workplace themselves the most accessible experience for both employees and customers. Jenny had the most amazing quote within this podcast. She said. Disability at Microsoft is seen as a strength and an expertise. Oh, so good. The hiring process is also very in tune with the disability community. She gave a great example of an academy that they hold for a week every year. For people who are specifically Neurodivergent. Because Microsoft recognised that for people who are neurodivergent, the traditional hiring process really isn't conducive to their access needs. They created a hiring academy that they hold where neurodivergent people who are applying for jobs at Microsoft get together and play Minecraft. That might sound a little bit left of field, but Jenny explained through the week. People at Microsoft were able to watch how a person interacted in a team, how they flagged issues and overcame problems. And through this process, they were able to identify the strengths in a person to a more effective standard than the traditional interview.

Peta [00:07:34] Essentia is another great example of an organisation that thinking about disabled people. All of the technologies that are within the organisation are accessible. When COVID hit, they had a request tool that allowed all employees to gain accessible equipment to be delivered to their home. All presentations and emails must be accessible to all people, including people with vision impairment. People with disabilities are actively involved in the development of all technology at the company cycle.

Peta [00:08:17] Bloomberg, another big organisation in America, provides reasonable adjustment and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Disabled candidates are highly encouraged to work with the recruiters and people in high China on their needs and the sort of adjustments that should be implemented that allows them to be the best they can be at their job. They have disability awareness and etiquette training for recruiters. They specifically have a talent acquisition team that engages with various organisations within the disability community that allows them to tap into a talent pool that sometimes is missed. Really, really fantastic. They have frequent engagement sessions to educate employees about visible and non-visible disabilities. They also have Braille signage and tactile indicators. Tactile indicators are those little round dots that you often see on footpaths, near bus stops. They also have hearing induction loops throughout the workplace. They also have an accessibility task force, which is a community of people across Bloomberg who endeavour to make the workplace more accessible for people with disabilities.

Peta [00:09:48] The last organisation that I felt had some really interesting initiatives as far as making their workplace accessible was Costco. As we know, little things can make big change. So Costco was the first company to offer a desk phone that includes built in speech functionalities. Costco said that they have a commitment to make their products, services, websites and documentation accessible and usable by all people with disabilities. Either by design or through assistive technology. I also have this section on the website where people can suggest an accessibility solution directly to the company. So if you have an accessibility solution or question about their products or physical stores, you can contact Costco Accessibility Department by filling out a form on their website. I really, really hope people as screenwriters can use that form. I read also an interview where the senior vice president spoke about when his daughter was graduating from college. He really started to realise that there was limited career path for her and because of that cost going out actively tries to employ people who have intellectual disabilities.

Peta [00:11:26] As I say, my research was not to the level of doing a thesis or a Ph.D. by any means. But I have to say, I found it really difficult to find concrete examples of how these organisations are making them accessible. Like it's, it's great that they're saying that they are, but how are you actively doing that? Give examples. So then other organisations think, what a great idea. And if you're listening to us thinking payday, you've missed a trick here, there's some great Australian examples of accessible organisations. Please let me know. I'm always about better educating myself and highlighting great work within the disability community and our allys.

Peta [00:12:23] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it if you did. Can I encourage you to leave a writing interview? If you listen on Apple Podcasts or if you listen on any other platform, please share the episode with a friend or share the episode on social media. It all helps more people find the podcast. Thanks again for listening, everyone. And until next week? Have a good one, guys. Bye.


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