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How to identify ableism practices at your place of work

The workplace should be a space that fosters inclusion and celebrates diversity. However, discriminatory practices can still exist, and ableism – prejudice against people with disabilities – is one such example.

Ableism can manifest in overt ways, but it can also be subtle and unintentional. If you’re an employee with disabilities, recognizing these practices is crucial. This knowledge can help you advocate for a more inclusive workplace.

What is ableism in the workplace?

Ableism in the workplace refers to any actions or policies that disadvantage or exclude people with disabilities. This can range from blatant discrimination to more subtle biases that create barriers to participation and success. One key area to consider is the physical accessibility of your workplace. Is the physical workspace accessible to everyone? Are there ramps, elevators and accessible bathrooms available?

Communication accessibility is also crucial. Does your workplace offer communication methods like sign language interpretation, closed captioning for videos or alternative formats for documents for those who need them?

Furthermore, you should find out if your colleagues or managers make assumptions about someone’s capabilities based on their disability. Are there insensitive jokes or stereotypes about people with disabilities?

Identifying subtle ableism

Sometimes, ableism can be so ingrained in workplace culture that it goes unnoticed. One way this can show up is through unrealistic expectations of productivity. Are deadlines or workloads set without considering the needs of employees with disabilities?

If you’re someone with a disability, finding a truly inclusive workplace can require some effort. By identifying ableism practices in your workplace, you can liaise with a reliable legal team to advocate for your rights. This can help ensure you work in a company where you feel valued, respected and empowered to succeed.