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From Invisibility to Accessibility

PERKS Editorial Team

PERKS Editorial Team

·

November 17, 2021

The Building Culture Podcast - Episode 3.9

Arjun Devgan, "From Invisibility to Accessibility"

Accessibility is a vital but often overlooked component of organizations' diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Arjun Devgan, VP & Global Head of Customer Success at Amplitude, joins Building Culture in this episode to discuss his perspectives on the relationship between inclusion and accessibility, employee responsibility, and how accommodations may differ in remote vs. hybrid or office environments.

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Show notes:

  • Accessibility is defined as: Reasonable accommodations for physical or digital disabilities (Accessibility.com).
    • Federal law requires employers to be compliant with providing such accommodations, and it’s illegal to discriminate based on disability. 
    • Why accessibility is important? Do you have an example?
  • What are some examples of accessibility? 
    • Accommodations (physical and other)
    • Setting realistic expectations for team members
    • Entrance ramp
    • Web/online
    • Training
  • What does accessibility look like in the remote/hybrid workplace? Examples? 
  • Does remote work promote accessibility?
    • Casey Peroni on Twitter: “An office environment by its nature discriminates. Some.. disabled people, single parents, long-distance commuters all face an uphill battle before, during & after work to differing degrees. #WFH is not a privilege, it’s a game-changer to level inequality at work.” What are your thoughts on this?=
  • What does accessibility look like in an in-office setting?
  • From your personal experience, what does it look like to have more open conversations around your disability?
    • Everyone has a different lived experience. 
    • Employee’s responsibility - it's essential to talk about your experience and educate.
      • Most people are happy to help once they know
    • Companies: mechanism to disclose what’s available, but onus is on the individual
    • Communication cannot only be top-down; it has to be from everyone.
  • For candidates with disabilities, what type of personal information would I need to share in order for my organization to accommodate?
    • Most organizations are hopefully hiring based on skill. Recruiters/employers learn about someone through their resume or in the interview.
      • If a candidate doesn’t share what can help enhance accessibility for them, no one will know.
    • Speaking to your manager and/or HR if you need accommodations
  • From a compliance standpoint, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) helps companies “make reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities.
    • Most people in their lives have something that impacts them, e.g. working parents with school-age children.
      • The result we want to drive with inclusion is building high-performing cultures with high retention
      • Sharing your needs leads to a better understanding of others’ needs
      • Balancing between high empathy and high performance
    • Operating from a compliance-first or people-first mindset, i.e. keeping costs down or considering the ROI of an inclusive environment? (Accenture 2018 study)
  • What are some barriers to accessibility that you’ve seen?
    • Hesitation or even feeling shame about being viewed as different
    • When people do speak up, others may think they are lying
    • Sharing examples really helps give perspective
  • How does considering accessibility tie back into an org’s DEI initiatives?
  • What is the best way for organizations to support their people? 
    • Psychological safety: people feel safe to share their struggles
      • ERGs
      • Manager one-one-ones
    • Keep in mind support looks different across teams: in-person, blended, or fully remote. Use what works for your team!
  • If there’s one thing you could say to companies (whether they’re in tech or other industries) about inclusion, what would that be?