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Understanding The Role of Online Inclusion in Human Resource Management

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In today’s increasingly global workplace, diversity and inclusion factors – including website accessibility – are vital components of a healthy organisational culture.

HR teams are often the unsung heroes of a company’s growth and success. After all, it’s their job to create a diverse team whose cumulative experiences and perspectives translate into a competitive advantage.

What is Online Inclusion?

Job applicants with physical and hidden disabilities are at a significant disadvantage online as it can be challenging to assimilate information on company websites and follow through with the application process.

Even existing employees can be disadvantaged because they face online barriers across company websites, intranets, and communication portals, etc. Being inclusive means making adjustments for this, allowing businesses to:

  • Tap into the broadest talent pool available
  • Provide an inclusive candidate journey
  • Support employees with the tools they need to excel

Why is Online Inclusion Important in the Workplace?

Today’s workforce is the most diverse it’s ever been due to a combination of diversity, equity, and inclusion developments and the increased tendency towards remote working. 

Modern HR processes rely heavily on digital technology, and employees crave better technological experiences. Yet, around one in five people has a disability that means they encounter obstacles at the application stage, way before they even enter the workplace.  Plus, despite workers needing access websites, intranets, and documents from both inside and outside of the office, many say that the technology they are provided isn’t efficient.

There’s also a bottom line consideration. Embracing and adapting to accommodate individual differences makes your teams stronger, more innovative, and more adaptable.

  • Inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments (Deloitte).
  • Diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee (Deloitte).
  • Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets and are better at decision-making (Zenefits).
  • Companies with diverse management teams have a 19% increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts (Forbes).
  • Diverse companies with inclusive teams are 87% better at decision making, are much more likely to capture new markets, and are 1.7 times more innovative than their competitors (BuiltIn Beta).

What is the Role of HR in Creating a Digitally Inclusive Workplace?

The key for HR professionals is to alter their perceptions of disability as a factor in their diversity and inclusion policies. Traditionally, physical disabilities have always been included in D&I considerations along with gender, race, sexual orientation, cultural background, age, etc. However, there is a long list of none physical conditions that put users at a digital disadvantage. We call these hidden disabilities, and examples include vision problems, neurological differences, cognitive impairments, language issues, and learning difficulties.

Effective HR professionals purposefully focus on creating an inclusive environment to motivate staff, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity levels while simultaneously ensuring the best practices for attracting, recruiting, developing, and retaining the best employees. 

Illustration of people working in an office

Digital barriers are a problem at every stage of the employee life cycle:


If your website isn’t accessible, the number of potential applicants that see vacancy listings and job descriptions is limited, meaning you’re missing out on talent. Only one in three job seekers think employers and recruiters make online job applications suitably accessible for disabled people (The Independent).


Accessibility barriers prevent many applicants from filling out application forms and completing online skills assessments. Research by RIDI suggest 54% of applicants say they’ve encountered hurdles at multiple stages of the recruitment process, and 28% say they find online assessments challenging.


If employees are not given the tools and technology they need from the start, they receive a poor first impression and will not develop a trusting and loyal mindset. 9% of employees have left a company because of a poor onboarding experience (CareerBuilder).


Without incorporating policies, processes, and technology to improve diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, the workforce will be less productive. Cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by up to 20% (Deloitte). 


Inclusive technology is an essential consideration as modern-day businesses rely on websites, apps, and software to help their staff get things done. Workers who see technology as a productivity aid are 158% more engaged in their jobs and are 61% more likely to stay with a company (Human Resource Executive).

Where Does Recite Me Fit In?

Many companies shy away from online accessibility and inclusion factors as they perceive them as being complex, expensive, or simply too difficult to work around. Yet the average cost of making an accommodation for a disabled employee is minimal, and data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. So in reality, this is nothing more than a common misperception, especially when you consider all of the additional benefits of becoming an inclusive employer.

quote“According to Accenture’s 2018 study, The Disability Inclusion Advantage, companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting people with disabilities outperform their peers with higher revenue (28%) and profit margin (30%).”

John Stern, Accessibility Advocate

Utilising assistive technology is a proven way to account for varied digital access barriers. The Recite Me assistive toolbar is already used by hundreds of companies to support diversity in the workplace. 

Our software provides a variety of tools that allow users to create a fully customisable experience by:

  • Personalising font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read.
  • Utilising the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus.
  • Using the ruler tool to make reading easier.
  • Downloading content as an audio file as an alternative to reading.
  • Converting page content into over 100 different on-screen languages.
  • Having the page read aloud in a choice of 65 different languages.
  • Customising PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated.

What the HR Pros Say

“HR professionals are integral to key parts of businesses. An HR team that is skilled and knowledgeable about diversity and inclusion is essential to support the overall business plan. Diversity and Inclusion should be the golden thread for HR teams in supporting the workforce to be the best it can be and enhance company performance.”

Alex Greenwood, Head of People and Culture at Derwent Students 

“HR and people teams are pivotal to the D&I journey within organisations, although ultimately leaders must be accountable. Therefore, it is key that HR teams have the skills, knowledge, and capability to advance D&I priorities in the same way that HR professionals can progress in reward, recruitment, and other areas of specialism. One aspect of inclusion that is often overlooked is that of digital inclusion. With so many HR teams relying on access to systems to self-serve on HR matters, receive communications and performance reviews, it is more critical than ever that accessibility is a key pillar of any D&I plan.”

Jenny Hinde, Executive Director, The Clear Company

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