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During our Diversity Dilemma event, every organisation had the opportunity to present their Dilemma (their specific context, actions carried out to date, and the impact of a successful solution). Participants then “quietstorm” ideas from their own perspective, knowledge, and experience, before deep-diving the solution which the organisation believes will have the greatest impact. Here we show the first of two examples of dilemmas and solutions from our participating organisations.

Dilemma 2: Aiming for world-class workplace adjustments

In a large, global technology firm their disabled colleagues feel that the disability agenda is a poor relation to other areas of diversity (even with a clear strategy and action plan in place).

The organisation are currently:

1. Struggling to hire and retain disabled people
2. Have fewer people declaring their health issues
3. Have poorer engagement results in this category

To meet their ambitious 2030 I&D goals, the organisation wants to put in place a world-class workplace adjustments approach.

Our Proposed Solutions:

1. Continuous Improvement

  • Carry out a root cause analysis on the current process to identify and implement adjustments. Discover where the pain points are, thus allowing greater focus on the employee experience.

  • Work with external providers to understand what is best practice, and where quick wins can be made.

  • Explore alternative and innovative technologies e.g. Robotica for sign language.

  • Include in the exit process questions regarding what more could be done, or done better in the workplace regarding these issues.

2. Attracting people with disabilities

  • Introduce a “pre-boarding” process for new employees or “try-before-you-buy”. This can demonstrate and test what adaptations are available to all employees to increase the level of applications from people with disabilities, and increase their likelihood of accepting a job offer and staying.

  • Engage with charities/organisations to help contact more people with disabilities and get ideas on how to make the workplace more accessible.

  • Identify and empower more senior leaders to be open about their experiences and to be disability ambassadors.

  • Encourage, engage, and reward your Employee Resource Group for Disabled employees to support your recruitment efforts/partnerships.

3. Policy & Practice

  • Adopt a white glove approach recognise and understand that the implementation of employee adaptations is a bespoke process, and raise the level of employee support available.

  • Consider a hybrid approach – the adjustments may be needed twice, at home and the office.

  • Adopt a global approach, adapted locally to specific legislation and workplace requirements.

  • Educate all employees (particularly hiring managers) on what are the benefits of having a diverse workforce, specifically people with a disability, and how they can be excluded from the workplace due to a lack of adaptations or stereotypes. For example, a neurodiverse person may prefer the option to record a video rather than deliver a presentation in the interview process.

4. Walk the Talk - demonstrate the commitment

  • Agree and communicate a clear Service Level Agreement (SLA) with employees, coupled with a dashboard to track achievements e.g. % requests resolved within X timeframe.

  • Established a confidential escalation procedure, where employees can highlight the lack of progress in their requests.

  • Introduce a “rapid response” hotline for employees wanting to discuss their adaptation needs.

  • Ringfence the budget for additional resources e.g. training of line managers on what adaptations are freely available.

  • Share stories of where workplace adaptations have made a difference, from both positive and negative experiences.

  • Continually educate employees about the benefits of a diverse workforce, specifically working with people with a disability e.g. consider engaging a para-athlete to talk about their experience or have a sports contest.

5. Engage and empower employees

  • Introduce an automated self-service option for IT purchases up to a certain financial level e.g. £1,000 which is processed without manager consent.

  • Hold employee focus groups to engage the workforce and understand the current issues.