Equity in Action: Identifying Opportunities to Make Your Workplace More Accessible

group of professionals meeting and smiling

Are you ready to make your office more accessible?

Our Equity in Action blog series is moving to step six from our Six Steps to Make Your Legal Workplace more Equitable – identifying opportunities to make your office more accessible. There are many ways to make your office more accessible to those with physical and nonphysical disabilities. Learn more about the definition of disability, types of disabilities, what it means to be accessible in our recent blog post Equity in Action: Defining Disability and the New Disability Equity Committee.

Let’s review two scenarios that you or your colleagues may find yourselves in:

Scenario 1:

The firm has a wine and cheese staff event planned for this Friday. Erin is new to the firm and she’s excited to use this after-work gathering to get to know her colleagues better. Erin has a history of substance abuse, and this is something she would prefer not to disclose to her new colleagues. You are Erin’s manager, and she approaches you as she is upset about the expectation of staff to socialize and drink alcohol at the planned staff event.

What would you do if you found yourself in this situation?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you mindful of the accessibility of venues when planning work events?
  • What can you do to ensure staff events are accessible to all employees?
  • Are you mindful of possible disabilities or barriers that are not visible while planning work events?

Scenario 2:

You’re an associate at ABC Law. You always communicate with your clients through email, text message or over the phone. Melanie is a new client, and she states that she does not have an email or a cellphone. She tells you her preferred form to receive communication is through written letters. You don’t want to lose Melanie as a client, but this form of communication is not one you are used to.

What would you do if you found yourself in this situation?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you aware that clients may have different preferred forms of communication?
  • Are you willing to accommodate your client’s needs, even if it may require more work on your end?

It‘s important to identify opportunities to make your office more accessible. Here are some things you can do:

  • Include information on your website about how your office is accessible.
  • When holding staff events, avoid venues that are not accessible by those with disabilities.
  • Ask clients for their preferred format to receive written communications.
  • Advertise your services in media outlets serving diverse communities in your area.

Our goal is that by the end of this blog series is for you, your colleagues and firm know how to approach various situations to make your legal workplace more equitable.

Questions or comments? 

Contact us at equity@nsbs.org or add your comment or response to “what would you do?” in these scenarios by completing the comment box. Please feel free to remain anonymous and note that we review all comments prior to publishing.

This Equity in Action blog post was written by Asha Pelly, NSBS Summer Law Student.