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Melania Santoro at Arcadis speaks about disability inclusion at work

Melania Santoro at Arcadis speaks about disability inclusion at work

 May 24, 2022

Arcadis finds solutions to pressing challenges, improving quality of life for people around the world. Arcadians come from different backgrounds, have different skillsets and different perspectives. For Arcadis, those differences make the company stronger and drive it forward.

Yet in some companies, according to research by Samsung UK, disabled people attempt to hide their disabilities so they don't get passed over for promotion. HR colleagues, in fact, can play a significant role in helping people to feel comfortable being themselves at work. Portfolio Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at Arcadis, Melania Santoro, spoke with HR magazine on the topic and discussed the importance of creating inclusive workplaces for employees with disabilities.

Creating a safe space for disclosure

Melania says that companies should be working harder to create inclusive working environments.

"It is important to create an environment where people are comfortable being themselves, whether they disclose a disability or not. We need to be mindful that we have colleagues who might not have a visible disability, or they may not have been given a diagnosis yet," she comments.

Melania suggests that there may be different ways to create a safe space for disclosure so disabled workers feel comfortable to disclose.

"Create an alternative reporting pathway to a line manager or HR with a third party to offer a psychologically safe space to share issues, get support and advice. More than that, these bodies can also intervene on behalf of the employee to get reasonable adjustments in place," explains Melania.

Creating inclusive working environments

Samsung UK's research found disabled workers are hiding their conditions in the workplace over fear for their career progression. The research also found that 45 per cent of workers with disabilities have concealed their conditions to increase their chance of securing a promotion, and a further 40 per cent say that they feel their colleagues valued them less after learning of their disability.

The research also found getting into the office building was a challenge for 29 per cent of disabled workers surveyed, with bathroom access a challenge for 30 per cent.

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