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Why inclusive workplaces make economic sense

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Businesses working to be more disability friendly are winning support for being good citizens – and learning it also makes good commercial sense.

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“People should be more inclusive not only because it ticks boxes but also because it is genuinely the right thing to do,” Scope Global head of diversified businesses Kingsley Hall says.

“(However) research also indicates businesses and organisations that are prepared to become more inclusive actually share strong commercial benefits from the community to which they are inclusive.”

Adelaide’s Scope Global has been operating in the sector for more than 10 years.

It employs people with lived experience to visit workplaces and to help with physical audits of their accessibility and in mentoring staff.

Hall says basic changes can make more people feel included, from lowering door handles to make it easier for those in a wheelchair to negotiate an office or ensuring websites are visually impaired friendly.

“In a very, very short period of time a great deal of the world’s commerce is going to be online so from that perspective it makes perfect sense,” he says.

If specially designed software readers cannot read a website to audibly tell visually impaired users when to click, the business is likely to lose a client or customer.

“You certainly need the foresight to see that if you are inclusive to any part of the community that part of the community will embrace you for that,” Kingsley says.

“The positive effect on others seeing you embrace that community is that larger community returning that embrace – you get a halo effect commercially.”

Research is also reflecting a growing understanding of its role in making change within the business community.

The BDO State Business Survey 2019 showed social and environmental responsibility was a clear priority for most South Australian businesses responding to issues occupying public conversation.

Ninety three percent of respondents said social and environmental responsibility was either very or somewhat important for their business, reflecting a broader shift in community expectations.

The BDO report said the results showed SA business was wisely aware of the influence these factors have on consumers, employees and stakeholders when they choose businesses where they spend their time and money.

“Not only is it in line with community expectations, but helps retain staff, inspires loyalty in customers and builds a positive reputation – all key factors for success,” the BDO report said.

BDO Audit Manager Linh Dao says Scope Global is leading the way in disability inclusion for business in South Australia.

“There are so many positive outcomes for clients, employees and organisations when they embrace this focus and we hope many more businesses and community groups will do so,” says Dao.

Scope Global is soon launching a stand alone disability inclusion practice maven with Hall saying the company recognises there is significant value in seeing, hearing and listening to diverse perspectives.

The new practice will connect its team of experts with experience of disability to corporate and community groups to help make change.

Hall says it was all about helping businesses make positive change for the community – and their bottom line.

“There’s always an attraction toward quality and I think a growing regard and growing respect for businesses that differentiate themselves in a positive way,” Hall says.

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