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Celebrating International Day of People with Disability 2021, Building an Employee Resource Group with the NRMA, and How employers can help languished employees.

Celebrating International Day of People with Disability 2021

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD), held on 3 December annually, celebrates and raises awareness of people with disability and equitable opportunities in all aspects of life.

It’s the perfect opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to disability inclusion across the organisation. A hybrid event may be the way all employees to attend events comfortably; so long as accessible and supportive technology has been adopted.

This year’s UN theme is: Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’

How can you celebrate the day?

Collaborate with your Employee Resource Group and/or employees with disability 

To find the best way for your organisation to celebrate IDWPD, consider collaborating with your Employee Resource Group (ERG) or Disability Employee Network (DEN) to support with planning or advising on the celebrations. Having the direct input of employees with disability is vital in any organisation that wishes to truly practice disability inclusion.

If you do not have an ERG, IDPwD is the perfect day to launch one.

Demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to disability inclusion

Working on a Disability Action Inclusion Plan? Or are you co-designing a new program with your employees with disability?

No matter what it is, IDPwD is a great opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the inclusion of people with disability through launching an organisation-wide policy, plan or initiative that firmly places disability inclusion on the agenda.

Alternatively, you can share the next steps of one of your plans, programs, policies or initiatives that you are working on to support the equitable inclusion of people with disability in your organisation.

Support employees with disability in sharing their stories

Storytelling is a powerful tool that connects us all.

Employees with disability may feel comfortable to share their experiences and stories. Considering sharing the stories of employees with disability, as no two experiences are the same.

Organisations can share stories in a number of ways – across the intranet, at a hybrid event or even at a lunch and learn. No matter the way in which stories are shared, IDPwD is the opportunity to utilise storytelling.

Show your organisation’s commitment through leadership

Senior leadership, executives and Disability Champions use IDPwD as a day to promote the organisations’ commitment to disability inclusion and to reinforce that disability inclusion is on the business agenda.

This might be through a Q&A with senior leadership, or through a panel – or perhaps through a new initiative launched by leadership to support disability inclusion.

Support staff to learn about disability and inclusion

We know that familiarity and education can by the biggest opportunity to removing unintentional barriers. IDPwD can be a great opportunity to organise training – whether internal or external – where employees can learn about disability, and the benefits of disability inclusion in the workplace.

 

These are just some of the ways your organisation can get involved, but the biggest impact will come with what resonates with your internal culture. Do what works best for your organisation – and share the ways you celebrate on the day with Australian Network on Disability by tagging us @AustralianNetworkonDisability.

Building an Employee Resource Group with the NRMA

NRMA

At the NRMA, the experience of belonging is so valued it underpins the entire diversity and inclusion framework.

Called “Belong,” the framework is an integral part of the NRMA culture and comprises of six key pillars including: gender equality, multiculturalism, LGBTQI+, intergenerational workforce, indigenous and disability.

Courtney Pond, Group Inclusion, Diversity & Wellbeing manager says

When we’re talking about disability inclusion, we’re not talking only about those within our organisation, but also the communities that we work in and engage with in our frontline workers, which is really important.

Apart from the Belong framework, the Employee Disability Network was also supported by the understanding and importance of advocacy.

Advocacy is a big part of disability inclusion, as its part of the NRMA’s DNA.

Having other network groups as the basis – such as the LGBTIQ+ network group – Courtney, along with colleague Jo Cullen, knew exactly what to do in supporting the ERG to thrive. They opened the ERG for not only people with disability, but carers and allies alike – who were all passionate about advocacy and inclusion and accessibility.

One of the most critical aspects prior to launching the ERG was the need for an engaged and passionate Executive Sponsor, which they had in Paul Davies, CEO of Holiday Park Network at NRMA.

Paul’s open and candid sharing of feedback from guests who had a less than ideal experience at holiday parks due to accessibility made him the perfect candidate for the Executive Sponsor.  His passion has helped keep focus and drive the ERG.

The network meets quarterly with all councils within the Belong framework providing ample opportunity to collaborate and connect, as well as support each other and have an executive sponsor check-in.

Establishing a terms of reference and a mission statement for their ERG was important as it helped build was support and momentum within the ERG. Jo explains

we found that we have the most momentum when the people who are part of that group come up with the moment and strategy themselves.

And so, members of the ERG created their own Terms of Reference and mission statement.

In the lead up to the launch, the ERG was promoted heavily across internal channels to encourage attendance to events.

The launch itself focused on storytelling, and sharing lived experiences of disability by staff at the NRMA – with a presentation by AND’s own Stephanie Lim. The launch was well received, with over 38 attendees.

Courtney says,

What’s so valuable in our organisation is we have a lot of people willing to share their personal experience. I think that’s a testament to the safe and inclusive environment we’ve created from a leadership perspective and a culture perspective.

After the launch, Courtney noticed some small changes across the NRMA that supported accessibility and inclusion.

People who attended the launch started announcing themselves before speaking on calls – which then flowed on, and now, even people who hadn’t attended the launch have started to do this.

The ERG is currently open to employees to join, with growing number of applications being received by the team.

There’s a great deal of momentum and excitement about the value and importance of our network group, and we’re really, really excited to see how it goes.

Okay, but not okay? How employers can help languished employees

Four people with their arms around each other, standing on a mountain watching the sunset

After a challenging year, your employees may be finding it challenging to answer the question “are you okay?” Employees may feel okay – but not feel okay at the same time. They could be somewhere in between – feeling restless, unmotivated, and uninterested in work. You may notice that your employees might have a harder time focusing work – or may just be going through the motions.

This is known as languishing.

Languishing is not a mental illness, but it can be the predecessor to one. But there are strategies that employers can put in place to support employees who may be feeling this way, and there are individual steps employees can take to support their own mental health and well-being.

While prevention is the best strategy, and a good strategic wellbeing plan can make that a possibility, some smaller steps employers can take include:

  • Encouraging employees to take annual leave and to take breaks throughout the day – providing employees with the opportunity to switch off from work.
  • Implement meeting free-days or meeting-free hours, so employees have an opportunity to get into a “focus zone,” to finish work.
  • Encourage strict working hours – where employees are not working beyond their assigned hours, simply because they are working from home, and discouraging any weekend work.
  • Encouraging walking meetings, where employees can walk and talk on the phone rather than virtually, providing a much-needed screen break.
  • Implement wellbeing practices into the workplace – like 15 minute meditation sessions once a week for employees that can be run inhouse, or implementing “screen-free,” break times.
  • Ensure any mental-health and wellbeing resources available for the workforce are easily accessible and easy to find.

If you would like to explore other ways to support employees mental health and well-being, learn how PwC is giving their employees the ‘Green Light to Talk.’