The role of an inclusive workplace environment plays a critical role into the success of Bridges’ mission – to provide employment opportunities to individuals with special needs or barriers to employment.
The world has changed a lot in the last several decades. As a result, our workplaces have changed too. We're much more diverse now than ever before. This is positive news for employers because it helps ensure there wil be people on your team who can relate to others' experiences and perspectives.
What does inclusivity in the workplace look like? Inclusion refers to creating a work environment where all people are truly welcomed, valued and respected - just as they are - regardless of differences.
Understanding how inclusion provides independence, accessibility and overall success is the first step in educating the future workforce.
On the path to independence
In our culture, being independent is highly valued. We work to become self-sufficient as quickly as possible. When we are young, we learn simple tasks like tying our shoes and making our beds so that we can take care of ourselves even when our parents aren’t around. As adults, independence means the ability to support yourself financially and living on your own without relying on anyone else for help or support.
It’s important for people with special needs to have this same sense of independence in their lives—not because it makes them more like someone not living with a disability, but because it allows them freedom and control over their everyday lives. Freedom allows options in life because it eliminates the need for permission before making a decision.
Making jobs more accessible
Accessible design is a concept that focuses on making things easy to understand and use for everyone. It’s about making sure that people’s different needs are addressed ensuring everyone can enjoy the same experiences.
Bridges assigns an onsite job coach to every individual with special needs placed with one of our community partners providing employment opportunities. Bridges’ job coaches allow our community partner to have confidence in training and quality of work while providing needed support to individuals with disabilities.
Success happens when everyone feels welcome
Inclusivity is important. It's the need to make everyone feel welcome, regardless of who they are or what they look like. Bridges mission is to provide unique opportunities in our community that will break down the barriers that prevent people from achieving their goals.
A creative idea turned to reality was the opening of Bridges Mercantile located in the heart of Jenks, Oklahoma. Bridges Mercantile provides a space for individuals with special needs to demonstrate their freedom through their artwork that is sold to the public. The charming mercantile also provides employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities seeking a regular day-time, retail environment job.
In the end, it’s important to remember that inclusivity isn’t just something that “sounds nice”. It is something that every person deserves.
It’s important to make sure everyone feels welcome, engaged and valued. Inclusivity is the key to getting everyone in the room—and making sure they stick around. Inclusivity is something every individual deserves.