Episode 280: Using Technology to Bridge the Disability Employment Gap

This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. PEAT works to start conversations around how emerging workplace technology trends are impacting people with disabilities.

Episode 280: Using Technology to Bridge the Disability Employment Gap with Charlotte Dales of Inclusively (@CharlotteDales)

I spoke to Charlotte Dales, an entrepreneur and visionary for impactful change. Charlotte co-founded CAKE Technologies, a mobile payment app that was acquired by American Express in 2017. She also co-founded Inclusively, a professional network connecting candidates with disabilities to employers who are cultivating diverse and inclusive workplaces. 

Charlotte started her career in finance in London and left the industry after she sold her mobile app to American Express in 2017. She was inspired by her cousin, Cameron Northup, who became the first licensed aesthetician in Florida with Down Syndrome, to launch Inclusively. 

Out of the 50 million working-age Americans who are disabled, only 29% participate in the workforce compared to the 75% without a disability. I asked Charlotte what we’re missing on the employer side. “There are a few things. When I first started looking into how I could solve this problem, I found that search criteria on mainstream job platforms hasn’t evolved in the same way other industries have. Without the personalization and the ability to filter opportunities for candidates with disabilities, it’s incredibly difficult for people with disabilities to find employers and vice versa. Companies are doing what they can to work with nonprofits, but it often further marginalizes people into specific roles. Disability is a large spectrum and companies often ask what disabled people can do, but the answer to that is complicated.”

“If you really want to drive change and action, accessibility needs to be consistent throughout your company.” - Charlotte Dales #InclusiveTechnology #WorkplaceTechnology #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet

“I come from the tech world and I’m still learning so much; I just surround myself with experts who do know what accessibility looks like. I think a lot of focus in the past has been on how we can upskill or train people with disabilities, but changing people’s cultures and processes can be really difficult.”

How Technology Can Make Work Inclusive 

I asked how Inclusively works from a technology perspective, particularly the accommodations tagging structure based on ADA guidelines. Charlotte said that “we want to be the LinkedIn for people with disabilities. We use a combination of traditional search criteria and then tagging with all of the accommodations under the ADA so candidates can search based on the accommodations, or what we call ‘success enablers.’ We’re beta testing an algorithm that maps physical and mental characteristics back to the jobs, functions and skills that make up the job postings on our site which allows us to create the best match on both employer and candidate side.” 

“We don’t ask people to disclose what disabilities they have; we are skills and accommodations driven, which allows us to scale this for anyone who needs accommodations in the workplace rather than for a specific disability.”

Charlotte added that Inclusively is “building technology to automate training; right now we have more of a manual process for training like webinars, digital training that employers can send to their hiring managers. We’re getting to microtraining – based on who you’re interacting with on our platform we can send training that is specific to conducting the best interview and what makes a person successful in that role for your organization.”

“Proximity to people with disabilities will only increase the level of knowledge that organically flows within your organization.” - Charlotte Dales #InclusiveTechnology #WorkplaceTechnology #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet

Having a site with a best match search algorithm is an incredible step forward for candidates with disabilities and employers who are looking for access to this talent pool. Technology really can be the bridge we need to close the employment gap for people with disabilities. I appreciate Charlotte sharing her experience with us!

Listen to the entire podcast episode to learn more about technology, inclusive recruiting, accessibility programs, and more from Charlotte Dales with Inclusively.

Connect with Charlotte Dales


– Charlotte Dales on LinkedIn

– PEATWorks

– Inclusively

– Inclusively on Twitter

– Inclusively on LinkedIn

– Episode 271: How Apprenticeships Help People with Disabilities Find Work

– Ep 226 – Creating VR Workplace Training Programs for People with Disabilities

Episode Transcript


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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