By Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader, Ernst & Young LLP

Top talent comes in different packages. We work to create a culture of inclusion—so all our people can bring their full selves to work and be fully productive. People with disabilities work in all our service lines and at all levels. We avoid using the terms “abled” or “disabled” and view differences in abilities as natural variations in the human condition.

We work to make our company comfortable and enabling for everyone by focusing on accessibility, career development, and educating our people on all aspects of inclusiveness. We try to go beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to create an environment that serves people of all abilities. We use a checklist of office practices, for example, that includes putting frequently used items like coffee and office supplies near the front of lower-level shelves, so they’re reachable for everyone, including people in wheelchairs or who are of short stature.

Our Ernst & Young AccessAbilities Professional Network helps educate our people by providing guidance about and raising awareness of workplace issues affecting people with disabilities. We’ve created handbooks, quick guides, posters, and videos, including “AccessAbilities Minutes,” which are minute-long presentations featuring real life examples of inclusiveness from our offices.

Many disabilities, such as chronic health conditions or mental health issues, are not readily apparent. That’s one reason why the AccessAbilities and the Ernst & Young Veterans Professional Networks are co-hosting a series of lunch-and-learns on post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that affects veterans and civilians alike.
We’ve come a long way, but there’s more to do. We look forward to the challenges ahead.