If diversifying is the key to business investment, diversifying the workforce is also a smart bet that can help establish a more diverse stakeholder and customer base, and that is a business’s goal. But does your company’s culture match its DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) strategy? Would your ‘SEN GEN’ (disabilities and gender) policies stack up to the gold standard under scrutiny?


Identify your blind spots – your organisation’s disabilities – by putting your DEI under the magnifying glass:

  • How diverse is your company from the base to the top of the organisational pyramid?
  • Is everyone inclusively represented around the corporate table?
  • Diverse hires might make up your organisation’s genetics, but how inclusive is your culture, and how equitable is your internal climate to support inclusivity and cultivate equity? Is it hot or cold?


It is a great first step to hire with diversity in mind, but it is only a start to realising the vision.


Gender split


Not quite gone are the days of patriarchy and the ‘bro pro’ culture – the man professional’s club – where women were called ‘Tootsie’ and hired to look pretty, and to make the copies and the coffee.

A Workable blog states, “A “boys’ club” exists when there’s no representation for women in decision-making. Because that’s when female voices are rarely heard and their needs are overlooked.”


Throughout the centuries, women of all races have proven themselves capable of anything. During WWII, women practically ran the western world in business, society, and the home, and aided the war effort on the battlefields. But when the war ended, females were relegated to the bench, back to being viewed by their male counterparts as the ‘weaker’ sex.


But gender diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t start and stop with the female sex, feminism, the gender pay gap, affirmative action, and ‘equal opportunity’ employment. The reality is far more complicated with ever-changing social landscapes. (Race, LGBTQ+ and ‘difference’/’other’ are included here for the limited scope of this article.) Negative histories have to stop being perpetuated and a new dialogue formed.




Take the word ‘disability’ which is by default negative because of the prefix ‘dis’. Being ‘disabled’ in one aspect or more should not define a person’s overall ability and worth. No one is without some form of inability to do something. Everyone has individual strengths and weaknesses, and everyone fails sometimes. It is equitable support and opportunity that will increase an organisation’s depth of talent.


Catering for disabilities in the workplace may look like a few tangible modifications to the infrastructural amenities, such as allocated parking, wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, and accessible toilets, but it might also be a quiet workspace away from the bustling open-plan office space, accessible computer programs, or a robust mentoring programme. You could say it sounds like empathy, looks like enablement, and smells like success.


Disabilities can be sensory, cognitive, physical, developmental, or behavioural. Some of these are not always visible, but the impacts on the individuals might be or not. Whatever the case might be for someone, they deserve to have the same opportunities for employment, and the chance to actively contribute at work.


Special Educational Needs (SEN) are on the rise and organisations must be prepared by increasing their awareness of their current and future workforce’s varied needs.


The worst disability of all though is a systemic lack of true DEI – not giving anyone and everyone the same opportunities to even the playing field.


Quick statistics


A Recruitee blog published some statistics from Diversity for Social Impact. They are:


  • Approximately 1 billion people (15% of the world’s population) live with a disability (for the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability according to an LDT article)
  • Women with disabilities are doubly disadvantaged, excluded for their disability and gender (add colour or another element of ‘difference’ and the disadvantage is compounded even more).


[For more information regarding women in the workplace, read the McKinsey & Company report.

For more information regarding disabilities in the workplace, read about The Walters Report in LDT.]




Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said: “We have a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation, and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock the vast potential of people with disabilities.” (2011 Report on Disability)


Another Workable blog points out that apart from being the ethical thing to do, why cultivate DEI in the workplace? In the UK, it is mandated by the Equality Act 2010 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. There are also business dividends to be gained in creating more depth in the workforce by being able to cast a wider net, equating to a more diversified portfolio and wider customer base.


Diversity enriches the collective culture of your employees through shared experiences of personal growth, knowledge, and skills, ultimately increasing the organisation’s value. Diversity is accepting difference and celebrating it with enthusiasm.


Equity is achieved by finding out what each employee needs to achieve success and making those provisions readily available to them.


Inclusion is working with individuals to meet their needs, and setting them up to achieve their best work life. Above all, DEI has to include:

  • adaptability
  • accessibility
  • consistency
  • measurability


Your organisation will get out of your strategy and therefore your employees what you put into it. So, what does your DEI really look like under the magnifying glass?


In conclusion

Your organisation’s DEI should see disability as achieving ability through its equitable and supportive enablement of its employees’ natural and learned gifts. Your DEI strategy should recognise difference as an essential component of your organisation’s health and well-being by having true representation throughout all levels of the structural hierarchy. True DEI cultivates and celebrates difference whether it’s from SEN or GEN.


Build your ‘good employer’ brand by being better than ‘the man’ and say, “I said ‘good day sir’” to the dis-ability of patriarchy and the ‘white bread’ dis-equity of yesterday. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the positive vision for today and tomorrow.