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 Diversity has traditionally been considered a term used by human resources departments, associated with fair hiring practices, discrimination and inequality. Dictionary definitions of diversity refer to variety, differences, multiformity (instead of uniformity) or dissimilarities (instead of similarities). The Society for Human Resource Management states that diversity is often used to refer to differences based on ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, and sexual orientation, but it also encompasses an infinite range of unique characteristics and experiences, including communication styles, physical characteristics such as height and weight, speed of learning, and understanding.


Surface-level diversity:

Easily perceived differences that may trigger certain stereotypes, but which do not necessarily reflect the way people think or feel;

Deep-level diversity:

Differences in values, personality and work preferences.


Disability is one of the most easily perceived elements of diversity (not always), and often treated at the surface level. A person is classified as disabled if he or she has some physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Disabilities include some conditions not normally associated with the disabled such as deafness, chronic back pain, AIDS, missing limbs, seizures, schizophrenia, diabetes, alcoholism, and many others. More than 60 percent of HR professionals now include disabilities in their Diversity & Inclusion plans, but only 47 percent actively recruit people with disabilities. Some disabilities enhance job performance, however, not every job can be done to accommodate a person with a disability.


Hiring people with disabilities results in higher labor costs and lower profit margins. Sick leave rates are virtually equal between employees with and without disabilities; workers’ disability is not a factor in the formulas for calculating workers’ compensation insurance costs.
Workers with disabilities lack the job skills and experience needed to perform their jobs as well as their able-bodied counterparts. Common technologies such as the Internet and speech recognition software have eliminated many of the barriers for workers with disabilities; many people with disabilities have great problem-solving skills and in finding creative ways, which others might take for granted, about how to perform tasks.
Uncertainty about how to take potential disciplinary action with a disabled worker. A person with a disability, in the workplace, has the same obligations and rights regarding work performance, behavior and results.
High costs associated with accommodating disabled employees. Most workers with disabilities do not need special facilities and accommodations, but for those who do, more than half of the workplace modifications cost €500 or less (bathroom, dedicated entrance,…).

  • R. Braum “Disabled Workers: Employer Fears Are Groundless“, Bloomberg Businessweek October 2 2009
  • R Braum „Survey of Employer Perspectives on the employment of People with Disabilities “US Department of Labor/Office of Disability Employment Policy, November 2008
  • Stephen P. Robbins and Mary Coulter “Management“ 15th Edition Global Edition Pearson “Managing Diversity“


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