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Checkout.com is Addressing an Often-Neglected Part of DEI: Disability Inclusion

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 — February 8th, 2022

Checkout.com is Addressing an Often-Neglected Part of DEI: Disability Inclusion

When I first started to research disability inclusion, I came across two main approaches: the medical model and the social model.

The first depicts disability as a disruption to a so-called norm, something needing to be treated or cured. On the other hand, the social model of disability suggests that discrimination and social barriers are disabling, not the disability itself.

The practice of DEI follows the core thesis of the social model of disability. There’s a shared understanding that we’re all equal; one size doesn’t fit all.

For everyone to thrive, “fixing” folks from marginalized groups is never the solution. Instead, we should fix our policies, our processes, and, most of all, our perspectives.

The social model of disability, like DEI in general, implores us to do better. So what could better look like?

This isn’t designed to be a playbook or self-congratulatory, but sharing our progress at Checkout.com towards disability inclusion.

For us, being intentional about addressing disability inequity started with building awareness. We reviewed our ways of working using the UK government’s Disability Confident employer scheme criteria as our framework, and spotted opportunity gaps where there wasn’t an established process in place.

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We’re currently at level two of the three-level scheme and have internal action plans to help us progress to the next level.

We also entered a recruitment partnership with Evenbreak, a disability employment service “run by disabled people, for disabled people” which reinforces our intentions: we want to continue to hire, retain and develop disabled colleagues.

Collaborating with disability specialists at Evenbreak, we’ve been supported to enhance accessibility within our ways of working, and further drive internal ally actions.

To complement advertising all of our vacancies on their platform, last year we co-hosted a recruitment webinar for Evenbreak’s members, sharing more about our hiring process, our culture, and how we’re improving disability inclusion at our company.

Evenbreak also audited our end-to-end recruitment process — reviewing our website and interview process documentation; arranging an on-site accessibility assessment of our largest office; conducting one-to-one and group discussions with our recruiters, our onboarding team, and colleagues from our Disability Community.

Speaking of our Disability Community, a colleague approached me wanting to form a disability-focused employee resource group. At the time, we had gender, race, parents and caregivers, and LGBTQIA+-focused ERGs.

We discussed the rationale for a disability ERG, as I do with any colleague or group of colleagues who approach me with intentions to form a new ERG. They described the positive experience they’d had sharing their disability status with their manager and team, and wanted to support others to do the same.

They also wanted us to create more awareness among colleagues across our company. We agreed that having a positive ‘disability disclosure’ experience should be everyone’s experience, rather than down to luck.

We landed on a mission: increasing accessibility awareness and meaningfully improving inclusion for colleagues with visible and invisible disabilities.

Shortly after launching the community, my colleague and I co-hosted a couple of meetups for the 50 or so initial members. We sought feedback on what was and wasn’t working, and crowd-sourced potential solutions.

Some of the requests were simple, like signposting our multi-purpose wellness room and the quiet spaces in our office. Others will take a bit longer to implement. An immediate benefit of the meetups was the connections that were built among colleagues who had similar experiences.

The discussions were insightful, we spoke about supporting loved ones with disabilities, the difference between visible and invisible disabilities, cultural and regional differences in perception, and assistive technologies.

We learned about the digital accessibility features our preferred tools offer, and created resources sharing how to enable them (e.g. Zoom live transcripts and video captions).

And our wellbeing team hosts fitness classes that include physical accessibility accommodations. Most recently, we launched an accessibility steering committee with accessibility specialist colleagues leading the charge.

As I shared above, this isn’t a playbook. For us, increasing access is iterative. The most important aspect of what we’re building is seeking our folks’ feedback along the way.

We recognize that there’s a lot more we still need to do. But we’ve started to make real improvements internally, and we’ll continue making our policies, processes, and perspectives more inclusive, rather than trying to change the people behind them.

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