A roadmap to inclusive leadership: disability etiquette (key no6)

Denis Boudreau
10 min readNov 24, 2023
Diverse team mates in a business setting, sitting at a table and having a conversation.
Photo Credit — Canva

Terms like “inclusion” and “inclusivity” often buzz around leadership boardrooms and strategy meetings. But true inclusive leadership digs much deeper than simply checking off whatever diversity box organizations might hold themselves accountable to. Understanding how to behave around the concept of disability is critical to building a culture of respect and dignity. It goes far beyond mere political correctness!

Because of its foundational importance, disability etiquette is introduced today as the 6th key on our inclusive leadership roadmap. This concept directly impacts how every team member, including those living with disabilities, experience their workplace. Therefore, one of the foundational elements of inclusive leadership is developing a solid understanding of disability etiquette. If you’re a leader who cares about creating an inclusive culture, you simply can’t pay lip service to disability etiquette.

Disability etiquette is primarily about how we support our people and how we communicate with them. It’s about how to offer them the help that they need to thrive. In short, it’s about how we acknowledge each person’s unique needs and contributions. With respect and dignity.

To provide you with actionable insights that can be applied in your own leadership journey, today’s post is dedicated to sharing insights from Iliana and Izumi. Both identify as neurodivergent — Iliana is autistic and Izumi has dyslexia. The lived experiences that they’re about to share with us will bring colour and context to the Dos and Don’ts of disability etiquette.

The heart of disability etiquette… is not what you think

When it comes to etiquette and disability, many people think it’s all about not stepping on other people’s toes, or offending someone. But that’s missing the point. Primarily, disability etiquette isn’t about walking on eggshells; it’s about creating an environment where dignity and respect are front and center! In a leadership context, this is vital. When you overlook disability etiquette, you’re not just making a social faux-pas — you’re essentially undermining and undervaluing a significant portion of your team.

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Denis Boudreau

Helping leaders connect with the missing piece in their DEI efforts. Amazon BestSelling Author “The Inclusive Speaker". Speaker/Trainer/Coach. #neurodivergent