For my blog today, I am going to talk business. More specifically, I'm going to offer a few thoughts on the business case for inclusion and accessibility within companies big or small.
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the fight for inclusion and accessibility is the fact that it is perceived to cost a lot of money. It does not cost anything tangible to allow someone of a racial minority into your store, but it may cost money to install a ramp or elevator. Being an entrepreneur myself, I understand the need to watch the bottom line. All businesses, no matter the size, want to be successful and maximize their profitability, and undertaking extra expense can certainly be difficult to swallow. Here is the thing though; businesses cannot afford to ignore accessibility.
First, let's talk about market size. There are a lot of disabled people out there, and even more people who have a close family member or friend with a disability. We are, in fact, the largest and fastest growing minority in Canada and beyond. The disabled market, just in terms of customer base, is worth billions of dollars. There are a lot of studies that show that businesses that do take accessibility into consideration get a lot of repeat business out of that. By ignoring this segment of the population, companies are ignoring a massive business opportunity
Second, let's talk about obligations. While disability legislation is not close to perfect yet, it is coming. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the as-of-yet unnamed federal legislation that is currently in consultation are a starting point. Businesses will not be able to get away with a blind-eye approach to inclusion forever. Legal protections against this will (I sincerely hope) make it very difficult for companies to ignore the rights of disabled people, and it is much easier to start from a place of accessibility than frantically trying to play catch-up. In all other aspects of business, planning for success is key. Accessibility is no different.
Lastly, let's talk about adaptability and creativity. No matter what industry a company is in, they need to be adaptable and creative in order to succeed. Sure, this can look very different for each company, but the core principles remain the same. Being a disability positive organization will help those principles because every employee benefits from a more inclusive environment. If you want to create an environment where employees take initiative and where you can quickly respond to market forces, accessibility needs to be on your radar. That is the bottom line.
And so you see, you cannot afford to ignore accessibility. If you want to talk further about this or find out what you can do better, feel free to get in touch on my contact page.