Inclusive employment: Taking the first steps towards inclusive employment

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Taking the first steps towards inclusive employment.


Committing to change is important but change only takes place through action. Some companies may choose to start with small steps while others are prepared to take the leap into a more formal and public commitment.

Ultimately, inclusive employment should not be viewed in isolation but be part of an organisation-wide culture of inclusion and accessibility that incorporates your products or services, employment policies and community engagement.


Woman in a bakery with a tray of biscuits smiling

Reaching out to others.

Many Australian organisations across a range of sectors are already on the journey to inclusive employment or are leaders in this space. Talking to others can provide valuable insights into the hiccups, quick wins and greatest successes along the way.

The Australian Human Rights Commission keeps a register of company accessibility plans. This is a great place to review what others are doing and find organisations that may be worth connecting with to talk about their experiences.

In Queensland, a group of organisations has launched the Brisbane Inclusive Employment to build momentum for people with different abilities, so that whenever there is a recruitment process they are unreservedly engaged, considered and employed. Businesses are using information sharing to create change faster.


Getting people involved.

Any steps towards inclusion should involve people with diverse abilities across the organisation and from different roles and levels of seniority. You might be surprised how much in-house expertise you have on hand when you start speaking with some of your team members.

Unique insights may be drawn from existing employees with disabilities, people who have family members with disabilities or staff who are carers, as well as board members and customers with lived experience.


Developing an Accessibility Action Plan.

An Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) sets out an organisation’s commitment to establishing and promoting an accessible, equitable and inclusive environment. It is both a public statement of intent and a strategy that includes key performance indicators and the actions that will be taken to achieve them. Developing an AAP is an important accountability piece on the path towards more inclusive organisation.

AAPs are as different and diverse as the organisations that create them. Some organisations choose to follow the guidelines of the Australian Human Rights Commission and focus their action around the provision of goods or services. The reason for this is the Disability Discrimination Act’s Action Plan provisions target businesses as service providers rather than as employers. However, it recommends actions plans include employment reforms together with a review of employment policies and practices.

Check out the full version of the ebook (link below) for details on what to include in an Accessibility Action Plan. A comprehensive guide to the steps for developing an AAP is also available on the HRC website.


Benchmarking your organisation.

The Australian Network on Disability’s Access and Inclusion Index is Australia’s most respected tool for benchmarking inclusion of people with a disability in the workplace. It can help organisations to gain an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, set measurable goals, build awareness and formulate a plan.

Organisations self-assess against 10 criteria:

  • Commitment
  • Premises
  • Workplace adjustments
  • Communication and marketing
  • Products and services
  • Information communication technology
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Career development
  • Suppliers and partners
  • Innovation.

This is an ideal place to start and provides a framework around which to develop an inclusive employment strategy. The index is only available to members of the Australian Network on Disability (AND). However, anyone can access a free self-assessment tool called the Quick 10 which provides a snapshot of your organisation’s current performance.


Publishing your Accessibility Action Plan.

It’s important to make your AAP publicly available. Employees with a disability may be looking for signs of inclusion and acceptance during their job search and it may make your organisation more appealing to prospective customers or clients.

It’s a good idea to have the plan available in different formats which may include a web page, pdf and captioned video to make it more widely accessible.

You can choose to submit your AAP to the HRC so it is on the public record if it follows the HRC guidelines. This is also a great place for inspiration from other companies that are already leading the way.


The information provided here is general in nature only and does not constitute business financial or legal advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your business objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any of this information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your business objectives, financial/legal situation and needs.

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