Thursday, September 14, 2023

Attitudes of the Sighted Towards Specially Abled Colleagues

When we try to create an inclusive workplace, CEOs and HR Leaders have one doubt on top of their minds - 

"How will the rest of our colleagues respond to the initiative? Will they welcome the change? Will they think of it as tokenism? Will they make the changes needed to create true inclusion?" 

To help all stakeholders make unbiased decisions, Esha conducted a nationwide research to answer the question: 

What, really, is the attitude of the sighted towards their specially-abled colleagues? 

To ensure zero bias, the research questionnaire was circulated only through friends and family. To further enable honesty, it was made possible to answer completely anonymously. 

The research was a year in the making - we started in May 2022 and completed only by July 2023. The report writing took another month. 

There are many things that we learnt as part of this research, but for the decision-makers, stakeholders, and everyone involved in creating a more inclusive world, we have just two insights to share: 

1. Every interaction matters. Even people who have had a very brief encounter with a blind person earlier are more likely to believe that the blind can be financially independent. Not just that, they are also more likely to support the changes (longer transaction times, physical changes) if it means having specially abled colleagues. So, initiatives like Blind School visits, public space accessibility et al, are not just important for the blind. They are also important for the sighted. 

2. We usually assume that most colleagues would be hesitant to make the changes required. In fact, when thinking of our colleagues' attitudes towards changes, we "Start with No." 

The number of people who said they would be very glad to make the changes required is 93%!! 5% were neutral and had a wait-and-watch approach. That means that just 2% of corporate salaried professionals have a negative attitude towards changes required to make an inclusive office! Let that sink in - Only 2%! 

Our advice to all stakeholders in general and corporate employers in particular is simply this - Start with an assumption of Yes! The people are willing. 

The entire report can be read on the Esha website here:

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