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Disability and the Diversity Framework in the Post-Pandemic Workplace

Courtney Mullin (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
Robert Gould (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
Sarah Parker Harris (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
Robin Jones (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)

Disability in the Time of Pandemic

ISBN: 978-1-80262-140-2, eISBN: 978-1-80262-139-6

Publication date: 26 January 2023



In this chapter, we explore the role of disability-based employee resource groups (ERG) in implementing large organizations' disability inclusion strategies and how pandemic responses shaped the workplace treatment and inclusion of disabled employees.


We conducted semi-structured interviews with disability-based ERG members and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals in large corporate settings. Then, we analyzed how pandemic-induced changes in the workplace impacted disability inclusion efforts and experiences of disabled employees.


Results from our study revealed that workplace disability inclusion responsibilities shifted to disability-based ERGs during the onset of the pandemic. Participants detailed how organizational disability inclusion practices and policies expanded through increased awareness among some employee bases and were de-prioritized to the point of erasure in other situations. Within the context of the pandemic, members of disability-based ERGs played an integral part in both enhancing visibility of disability and responding to instances of ableism in their respective organizations.


Findings provide context as to how shifting organizational contexts, such as pandemic related workplace policies, becomes disabling, and in turn illustrate the fluid nature of disability. By framing disability as an evolving (fluid) identity category and prioritizing the awareness of disabled perspectives, organizations can better support disabled employees in their future, overarching DEI strategies and approaches to workplace inclusion post-pandemic.




This research was conducted under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DP0091). NIDILRR is a Center within the US Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this manuscript do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.


Mullin, C., Gould, R., Harris, S.P. and Jones, R. (2023), "Disability and the Diversity Framework in the Post-Pandemic Workplace", Carey, A.C., Green, S.E. and Mauldin, L. (Ed.) Disability in the Time of Pandemic (Research in Social Science and Disability, Vol. 13), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 211-230.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Courtney Mullin, Robert Gould, Sarah Parker Harris and Robin Jones. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited