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Ensuring Success with Self-Identification

Creating environments where people with disabilities feel welcomed, valued, respected, heard and supported is crucial for success in today’s economy. One of the keys to this is creating a place where individuals are comfortable self-identifying that they have a disability.

How can companies create a work culture where employees are comfortable disclosing a disability? Now more than ever, how people identify, as well as when and why they disclose a disability, determines workplace culture. Research shows it is not an overstatement to say that having more people who openly disclose their disability creates an inclusive culture that has the power to dramatically shape future business culture and success.

Best practices for creating a culture of self-identification include the following:

  1. Educate – talk to your experts, the in-house individuals with disabilities.
  2. Connect – face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than emailed ones.
  3. Lead – give voice to leaders to self-identify as having a disability.
  4. Evolve – change your strategy as needed to help normalize self-identification.
  5. Trust – put people, not their disability, first.

According to EARN (the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion), a strong self-identification program can encourage employees to bring their “whole selves” to work, and thus is an essential component of a workplace that is truly inclusive.

Another important practice is to ensure the delivery of disability etiquette and awareness training. Hiring managers and employees should be trained on different scenarios to make people with disabilities feel welcome and safe in their company.