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Inclusion: Why Most Often It Doesn’t Include the Disabled Population

Sascha Butler, Office Director

WEBB Advisory Group



When corporations speak on fostering inclusion within their companies, they are typically

speaking of race, gender, and sexual identities. However, more often than not, the disabled population continues to be excluded when companies have these conversations.

Recently, pop star Lizzo made headlines when she released a new song and unknowingly

to her, used a slur towards the disabled population. Lizzo immediately took full responsibility. She didn’t point the blame at anyone else, she listened and apologized, fixed the song and re-released it two days later.

Lizzo heard what was said. She had me thinking about how little people do understand the disabled population.

My daughter has a disability. She falls on the autism spectrum for social behavior. It always

worries me that employers won't understand how to accommodate her. My daughter has a very high IQ and can do any job that anyone NOT on the spectrum can do. She just likes to do her work without having to socialize, and that should be accepted.

Employers in learning about inclusion must learn to understand that not all disabilities can be seen. These invisible disabilities impact those with cognitive, and mental health needs.

An example of why it's important for businesses to understand these invisible disabilities comes from an example of a man in Kentucky who sued his employer for throwing

him a birthday party, yep you read that right. A birthday party!

The kicker here is, he won $500,000 in the lawsuit against his employer. The employer had a practice of throwing each employee a birthday party on or around their birthday's. Quite a perk right. But, just like my daughter he suffers from anxiety in social situations.

So, he actually went to his employer in person and in writing, and told them of his condition and asked them to please not throw him a birthday party because he would have a panic attack.

Despite being informed, his boss and coworkers still threw him a party and he had a severe panic attack. But his lack of equity and his voice being included didn't end there. The next day when he came into work, he came in only to be reprimanded by his boss for having

“freaked out” and you guessed it he had another panic attack.

He was shockingly fired. Why? His boss had a concern that he would get angry while in the workplace. He wasn’t angry. He had a panic attack due to his social anxiety and was trying to calm himself down.

If his employer would have listened to his employee about his disability, all of this could have been avoided. Employers must listen to their employees and make reasonable accommodations. They also should include staff training on how to handle different types of disabilities.

That training should include: if an employee is in a wheelchair, there needs to be training on how to respond when there is a building emergency. Who would help that employee get out of the building if the elevators cannot be used.

Disabilities are not just seen, having a peanut allergy is considered a disability, and there needs to be staff trained for Epipen emergencies as well.

So, if we want to talk about inclusion and training, lets talk about including everyone.

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