No successful disability inclusion program is built by one person, and the most effective programs consider perspectives from a variety of roles and levels of responsibility.

Identifying the right people – both internally and externally – for your initiative’s implementation team is crucial for the program’s success. Be sure to keep your goals and needs in mind while selecting your implementation team; ensuring all players have a stake in the rollout is integral to success.

Typically, there are three distinct groups to think through when it comes to your internal team structure:

1. Project Sponsor:

Ideally a C-level executive

2. Site Champion:

Ideally a senior site operations manager

3. Working team:

Pulled from relevant functions across the site(s) where the program is being implemented, including HR, Operations, Training, Diversity and Inclusion, Marketing, Communications, Safety, Workers Compensation, Return-to-Work, and Information Technology (IT).

Example Model:

Here’s how that model might look in terms of responsibilities and minimum time commitments. (Of course, you should amend this to develop the structure that best suits your organization.)

Project Sponsor – Estimate: Two hours/month

  • C-suite executive
  • Sets targets (i.e., determines percentage of total workforce with disabilities) )
  • Actively and publicly sponsors initiative
  • Clears roadblocks (i.e., helps expedite changes) 

Site Champion – Estimate: Two hours/week

  • Site-level employee, ideally in a senior position within the site’s operations team
  • Creates buy-in with management team and workforce
  • Brings together the work of the broader working team and pushes implementation agenda

Site Working Team – Estimate Five hours/week/person

  • HR, Operations, Accommodations, Diversity, etc.
  • Broader working team that makes operational decisions to push implementation forward
  • Responsible for day-to-day workstream tasks including communications and other necessary work product

Selecting invested team members, and clearly specifying responsibilities, will go a long way in ensuring success. Likewise, be realistic about how much time will be required to implement and maintain your disability inclusion program for your company needs, goals, and the readiness of your site.

And remember, by designing your disability inclusion program to universally benefit your employees and meet your specific company goals, you ensure that this time is spent not only on disability inclusion, but in the overall success of your operations.

Know that it’s not uncommon that many, if not all, of your team members might not have extensive experience building or implementing disability inclusion. Don’t worry, there are many partners and services to help you across the process.

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