• Workplace Wellbeing

Disability Pride Month: Our guide to raising awareness in the workplace this July

  • By: paralleladmin
  • Posted on: 9th July 2024

Alison Brown
Health & Wellbeing Specialist

This July marks the start of Disability Pride Month – a month long celebration for the disabled community to embrace pride and celebrate being unapologetically themselves. As employees, now is the perfect time to acknowledge, recognise and look within your organisation at the obstacles that individuals with disabilities must overcome – whether it directly effects your existing workforce or not.

So what can do to support the community better as well as better educate ourselves? This month I am turning my attention to the concept of ‘ableism’ – an unconscious bias that prefers non-disabled people, reinforcing the idea that being non-disabled is normal, and not recognising that as people we are all wonderfully different and unique. Plus, I’m sharing my top tips for creating a more inclusive work based culture that supports the recruitment of a more diverse workplace.

Remember, not all disabilities are visual and not all employees will share theirs with you, by outwardly showing support, ensuring you have an inclusive culture and putting the necessary accommodations in place you become an ally. Without doing so you run the risk of unconsciously allowing for ableism within your organisation.

What happens if we are reactive and not proactive?

Ableism happens when people are judged and defined by their disabilities, leading to unfair treatment and social bias. It also occurs when we only react to existing disabilities within our organisation, not proactively put measures in place to support people of the Disabled community seeking employment. Celebrating disability culture in the community is crucial to fighting ableism, which is why Disability Pride Month is so important – BUT it’s a reminder to address and reflect on what you’re doing internally always, not just in July.

Using the flag as a reminder

Are you familiar with the flag at the top of this post? Why not test out the meaning with your team. The Disability Pride flag features vibrant colours symbolising the diverse experiences and needs within the disabled community, but represented in the flag:

  • Red = physical disabilities
  • Gold = neurodiversity
  • White = non-visible and undiagnosed disabilities
  • Blue = emotional and psychiatric disabilities, including mental illness, anxiety, and depression
  • Green = sensory disabilities, including deafness, blindness, audio processing disorder, and other sensory disabilities

The charcoal background symbolises the experience of ableism and serves as a protest against it.

So what can we do as employees to celebrate and support this Disability Pride month?

  1. Learn and educate about ‘Disability First’ language: The disabled community advocates for Disability First Language, such as “disabled people,” which puts disability at the forefront and allows individuals to live authentically. When unsure, ask someone how they prefer to be referred to. If that’s not possible, default to Disability First Language.
  2. Invite a disability activist to speak to your team: Bring in a disability activist to share their experiences and insights. This can support a deeper understanding, promote inclusivity, and inspire policy changes, accessibility improvements, and social acceptance within your organisation.
  3. Share books and resources by disabled authors: There’s no better way to learn about disabilities than through the shared and lived experiences of disabled people.
  4. Donate or support charities that support Disabled People: Organisations like Scope, Sense, and Mind are excellent places to get involved.
  5. Review your accommodations: If you haven’t already, now is a great time to review what workplace adjustments are in place to support the community, such as ergonomic furniture, assistive technology, and flexible work hours.

It is suggested that there are over 14 million Disabled People in the UK of working age and yet the UK.Gov states only 5.3 million in employment. As you acknowledge this month, remember that Disability Pride highlights the daily challenges and discrimination that disabled employees overcome and barriers preventing making work accessible for them. Embracing and supporting disability culture in the workplace is essential to developing an inclusive and equitable environment that attracts a more inclusive workforce.

More reading:

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