Diversity pays, doesn’t it?

I read with interest Paul Smith’s article about diversity in the workplace. It’s great that the issues are being addressed. However I was unpleasantly surprised by how little progress has been made in diversifying workplaces along the lines of age, gender and ethnicity.
Nowhere is there mention of disability, yet significant proportion of New Zealanders have some kind of disability. Is this omitted because disability is not seen as something positive, that can add to the concept of diversity in the workplace, or is it because, people with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities are forgotten and/or marginalised by employers.
A disability, be it physical, mental or intellectual doesn’t generally prevent person from working or from adding value to workplace. People with variety of disabilities can work successfully and productively with the appropriate support and accommodations, bringing new perspectives and experiences to the workplace.
Consider mental illness. One in five people will have mental illness of some kind at some stage in their lives. This may be severe, episodic or on one-off basis. International research suggests depression will be the second most common serious illness, world-wide, in the next few years.
This means that any of us could be the next to require psychiatric help. Workplace stress is potential trigger for depression. In your workplace and among your friends and family you will already know people who have experienced mental illness Ñ but you probably don’t think about their illness in this way.
People who have mental illness exhibit the same diversity of intelligence, skills, abilities and personal traits as any other group of people in the community. They deserve to be employed for their talents and their merits, not overlooked because of their illness.

Debbie Hager
Destigmatisation Fieldworker
Framework Trust

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