How Disability Friendly Is Your Practice?06 Dec, 20231-2 minutes
In this blog, you will learn:
- How disability friendly your accountancy practice is.
- The importance of having a disability friendly practice.
- Steps to make your practice disability friendly/inclusive.
- Where to apply for the best accountancy jobs.
Promoting diversity and equality is crucial to create an inclusive workplace that benefits employers, employees and its customers. The Disability Confident scheme aims to give employers the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people.
According to GovUK, two thirds (67%) of employers agreed that joining the Disability Confident scheme had a positive impact on their organisation. The decision to increase diversity in the workplace has meant that more effort and consideration is required to ensure every accountancy practice is inclusive and disability friendly.
By law, all employers must treat all job applicants equally regardless of any health conditions they may have. Some employers make it explicitly clear that they want disabled people to apply and that they can accommodate various needs.
Throughout this blog, we delve into how to embrace and ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities in your practice. Learn about the steps you can take to make your practice more inclusive and accessible for individuals with disabilities.
How disability friendly is your accountancy practice?
Accountancy as a profession is accessible for individuals with any disability - providing they have the right qualifications, education and experience for the role in question. However, for employees with disabilities, it is crucial that workplaces are disability friendly and accessible.
Consider whether your accountancy practice offers training, benefits or a platform for people with disabilities to ensure your practice is accessible and accommodates to the needs, experiences and requirements of the individual.
Ensure you are committed to encouraging and embracing inclusivity in your accountancy practice and that your diversity policies are effective according to varying modern standards.
The importance of having a disability friendly practice
The Equality Act 2010 which addresses equality for anyone with a disability, ensures that all businesses have a legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments for accessibility.
Whether you’re a small or a large accountancy practice, the UK has extensive equality legislation on discrimination against disabled people and is committed to improving the high unemployment rates among disabled people.
Steps to make your accountancy practice disability friendly
There are many ways to make your accountancy practice disability friendly and accommodating for disabled workers. Even small adjustments can result in big differences that help improve equality in the workplace and make it easier to have a disability at work.
As an employer, it’s important that you have an open mind and be willing to understand the needs and experiences of your disabled employees.
Steps to make your accountancy practice disability friendly include:
- Train staff and build awareness.
- Create an inclusive company work policy.
- Make practical adjustments
- Integrate software and assistive technology.
- Take an active leadership role.
- Offer inclusive benefits and allowances.
- Partner with charities and programs.
- Provide a platform for employees to discuss disabilities.
- End the stigma and normalise disability.
- Ask for feedback.
Train staff and build awareness
Disability awareness training is important to create a more inclusive workplace by providing information on relevant laws, and providing employees with guidance on how to create a comfortable environment for their disabled colleagues.
Providing staff with employee training programmes on topics such as equality law and and making them aware of the importance of understanding individuals needs and the appropriate way to make others feel safe, included and equal at work.
Awareness and information allows adjustments to be made to make your accountancy practice disability friendly. The more people know about accessibility and disability, the more likely they will be able to support others and be able to foster a respectful and inclusive working environment.
Why not offer staff the opportunity to undertake some basic training in British Sign Language to communicate with people with hearing impairments or deafness?
Create an inclusive company work policy
Create a company policy that promotes inclusivity and welcomes people with disabilities. Put into practice diversity and inclusion policies to guide employees attitudes towards diversity and inclusion.
Make sure that your policy includes what counts as bias or discriminatory behaviour, e.g. what not to say e.g. terms, vocabulary or slang that can be deemed offensive, negative or figurative, to eliminate discrimination and measure progress.
Make practical adjustments
It’s crucial to make all office spaces and communal areas accessible to everyone. This could include installing ramps, handrails or making reasonable adjustments to remove or prevent obstructions.
Desks, monitors and cables can also cause potential problems for individuals with disabilities in the workplace so these must be taken into consideration before the employee joins your practice.
You should also make sure that your accountancy practice has accessible desks, toilets and parking spaces to improve the safety and comfort of the whole practice.
If an employee acquires a disability during their employment with you, adjustments should be made as quickly as possible with minimal disruption. Access to Work may be able to assist with funding to make necessary amendments in these instances.
Integrate software and assistive technology
Technology is a simple but effective way to improve the lives and experiences of individuals with disabilities at your accountancy practice.
Overcoming accessibility barriers is invaluable and online support tools and technology are a great way to give employees with disabilities the opportunity to learn, develop or thrive.
Make it standard to have real-time captioning on audio content and training for company employees. A simple step like this can make a huge difference in your accountancy practice and can positively impact individuals who rely on captioning to consume information, learn or progress.
Offer induction loops, sign language interpretation, and provide information in large print, Braille, and audio-guide format to communicate with every individual, be more inclusive and overcome barriers. For partially-sighted and dyslexic staff, the ability to change fonts and background colours can be extremely helpful.
When it comes to acquiring a new accountancy software, consider what functionality it holds and how employees with disabilities could utilise it - you could even ask them to join you on demos to see their thoughts before you invest in it.
Take an active leadership role
It isn’t just about providing solutions or resources to foster a more inclusive accountancy practice, it is also important for managers to be trained in programs that recognise the needs of individuals with disabilities.
Employers and management must work hard to ensure diversity training is embedded into workplace culture and practices, and attitudes have to be more effective than formal training alone. Managers must be confident about managing and supporting colleagues with a disability or mental health issue.
From recruitment and training, to development and progression, managers need to be able to understand, identify and reduce the barriers that could potentially prevent employees from performing to their full potential.
Identify appropriate workplace changes or adjustments to support team members with a disability to reach their full potential and thrive at work. Ensure fair treatment of colleagues and foster an inclusive working environment.
Ask questions but do so with compassion and understanding. You want to understand your employees and learn the best ways to support them and provide them with the best resources to thrive.
Offer inclusive benefits and allowances
Disabled people have important rights under the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). It is unlawful for employers to treat disabled people less favourably because of their disability.
Consider the benefits that your practice currently offers e.g. gym membership, company cars. If these do not benefit everyone, consider how employees with disabilities interpret those benefits. They might feel they are excluded from benefits or not appreciated because of their disability.
However, there are certain allowances or benefits that can support an employee with a disability to ensure that they feel appreciated. Why not offer opportunities for accessible and disability sports in your area, flexible work opportunities, or allow employees to use a service animal.
An employer is required to make reasonable adjustments to enable a disabled employee with an assistance dog to carry out their job. This could include making space for the dog and its bed or potentially moving a workstation to a quieter part of the practice. By accommodating specific needs, organisations are able to attract and retain great employees.
Partner with charities and programs
Partnering with charities and participating in disability awareness programs benefits accountancy practices by enhancing their reputation, employee engagement, and promoting inclusion.
It also sends a powerful message about your commitment to diversity and encourages an inclusive environment. By fostering greater empathy, understanding, and inclusivity, your accountancy practice can attract a diverse and talented workforce, enhance client relationships, and promote social responsibility.
A disability-friendly accounting practice is one that prioritises inclusivity, accessibility, and support for individuals with disabilities, both within the organisation and in interactions with clients and stakeholders.
Provide a platform for employees to discuss disabilities
Talking about disabilities is an important step to allow employees to feel safe, included and represented. It is important to recognise disability but not force others to disclose their disability to anyone if they don’t want to, as by law, nobody has to tell their employer they’re disabled.
Employees can turn to their platform to discuss any issues, give feedback or recognise success and the benefits of an inclusive workforce. Allow and encourage employees or nominate one employee to be the voice and represent or discuss disabilities.
End the stigma and normalise disability
Make employees with disabilities feel safe, included and capable of greatness in your accountancy practice. Normalise conversations about disability and give a voice to those who struggle to feel seen, heard or represented.
Encourage conversations about experiences and actions to end the stigma around disability and as a result increase employee retention, satisfaction and experience.
Ask for feedback
Regularly assess your organisation's progress in becoming disability-friendly and ask for feedback to improve and accommodate according to changing requirements and needs.
To help encourage continual improvement with accommodating disabilities in the workplace, create regular support groups and organise feedback sessions.
Set measurable goals and track your performance over time or establish a feedback mechanism that allows employees and clients to provide input on the accessibility of your services and practices. Use this feedback to make continuous improvements and address the needs of those with disabilities.
Some employees at your practice might offer new and innovative ideas to improve the workplace that you might not have thought of, and could give them a platform to help educate the rest of the workforce.
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