What I Learnt about Building a Culture of Inclusion in Business

Charlie Brown and friends
"Christmas #7 - Charlie Brown is all about inclusion!" by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Last week I attended a webinar hosted by Business Gateway called “How to Build a Culture of Inclusion”. Now this webinar wasn’t specifically tailored towards executive coaches but for everyone in business. A lot of it I was very aware of to be fair, however there was a concept that I had never heard of, and it really made me stop and think. This needs to be shared I thought. So here I am sharing it with you.

Unravelling Prejudice and Embracing Inclusion: Medical vs Social Models of Disability

The concept of disability has long been a subject of debate, with various perspectives shaping our understanding of this multifaceted issue. Two dominant models, the social model and the medical model, have emerged as key frameworks for analysing and addressing disability.

The Medical Model: A Focus on Impairments

The medical model of disability places the primary emphasis on the individual's impairment, viewing it as the primary cause of limitations in their lives. This model positions disability as a personal tragedy, blaming individuals for their difficulties and advocating for medical intervention to "fix" their impairments.

Under the medical model, individuals with disabilities are often classified according to their diagnoses, leading to a focus on treatment and rehabilitation rather than addressing societal barriers. This approach often overlooks the individual's strengths and capabilities, perpetuating a sense of dependency and limiting their opportunities for full participation in society.

The Social Model: Shifting the Focus to Barriers

In contrast, the social model of disability challenges the traditional medical paradigm by shifting the focus away from individual impairments and placing it squarely on the barriers created by society. It recognizes that disability is not inherent to an individual but rather stems from physical, attitudinal, and institutional obstacles that prevent them from fully engaging in society.

The social model highlights the role of societal structures, policies, and environments in creating and perpetuating barriers that hinder the lives of people with disabilities. It advocates for social change and the removal of these barriers to create a more inclusive and accessible society for all.

Redefining Disability: Empowering Individuals

The social model emphasizes the social construction of disability, recognizing that it is not a fixed or inherent trait but rather a product of society's limitations. By acknowledging the role of societal barriers, the social model empowers individuals with disabilities to become active agents in shaping their own lives and demanding change.

This shift in perspective challenges the traditional medical model's tendency to pathologize disability, instead viewing it as a natural variation in human experience. The social model promotes a more inclusive and equitable society, where individuals with disabilities are valued for their unique contributions and empowered to live fulfilling lives.

Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Inclusion

The debate between the social model and medical model of disability lies at the heart of understanding and addressing disability in its entirety. By understanding the limitations of the medical model and embracing the social model's emphasis on societal barriers, we can move towards a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

The social model empowers individuals with disabilities to break free from the confines of medical labels and societal limitations, recognizing their inherent strengths and capabilities. It challenges us to re-examine our assumptions about disability and work towards creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Table: Unravelling the differences between the Medical and Social Models of Disability

  Medical Model Social Model
View of disability Individual's impairment Societal barriers
Cause of disability Impairment itself Lack of accessibility and inclusion
Responsibility for overcoming disability Individual Society and individuals
Focus of intervention Medical treatment and rehabilitation Removing barriers and promoting inclusion

If you are interested in learning more about how I can help you, please drop me a message on LinkedIn, or get in touch to find out more.


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