Building on their unique understanding of the challenges in human resources disclosure processes faced by employees and the associated legal risks faced by corporations, Olson and Keane recently launched Disclo – the first software for employers to collect, verify, and manage health disclosures and employee accommodation requests in accordance with state and federal American Disability Act (ADA) guidelines.
According to the CDC, over 60 percent of adults in the United States live with a chronic illness, while over one billion people worldwide are disabled. Many employees fear disclosing their disability directly to their employers, worrying that they will be treated differently after disclosing, or that their private health information may be shared with others. That’s why it’s not surprising that less than 3.2 percent of people disclose this at work. This leads to decreased job satisfaction, drops in productivity and employee happiness, as well as an increase in employee turnover.
Every employer with 15 or more employees must allow for accommodation requests – however, they cannot collect this information in their standard software due to HIPAA regulations. So, companies have opted to collect this information on spreadsheets or post-it notes.
Olson and Keane’s new venture, disclo, is on a mission to change that.
With Disclo, employees can safely ask for, verify, and act on accommodation requests at work. They help secure the enhancements and protections they need to succeed in their careers without having to disclose their underlying medical condition to their employer.
Disclo does this through their patent-pending medical verification system that validates an employee’s accommodation request is legitimate and required, interacting with medical providers directly. Not only does this protect employee privacy, it also offers a safe place for employees to share outside their HR department.
Disclo is taking an antiquated, unorganized process and making it accessible and safe.
After being diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in college, Olson had a PICC line placed in her arm which day administered IV antibiotics for eight hours. She feared that disclosing this information to her employer would harm her chances of moving up the corporate ladder, and she worried about “outing” herself at work. She ultimately ended up in a company that was not inclusive, and she felt forced to choose between her health and her career ambitions. She teamed up with Keane, on a mission to build safe, including workplaces where those with disabilities and chronic conditions can thrive. In an interview with Olson, she explains the nuances of disclosing health conditions.
Why is disclosure important, and how can it normalize accessibility within the workplace?
When employees don’t disclose, it leads to decreased job satisfaction, drops in productivity and employee happiness, as well as an increase in employee turnover. Employees who are twice as likely to feel regularly happy at work and 30% more engaged at work than those who don’t disclose. (Harvard Business Review)
By creating workplaces that have safe processes in place for employees to disclose it encourages people to share. When companies understand their employees’ accommodation needs, they can better support them.. When employees are encouraged to disclose, it creates an open and collaborative workplace culture where accommodations can be managed and prioritized. It allows for disability initiatives to be measured and improved upon. When we create accessible workplaces, we’re really creating equal access for everyone!
Why are people afraid to disclose and how can Disclo take that fear away?
We’ve learned that the main reasons people choose not to disclose are fear, shame, and stigma. Furthermore, many don’t trust that their company’s HR department will keep their medical information private.
We’re here to support employees in safely disclosing and asking for accommodations at work. disc never shares an employee’s underlying illness or disability with their employer. We verify the disability directly with the employee’s medical provider, and let their employer know which accommodations they are requesting. We’re removing the awkward conversations in the lunchroom, and providing a safe and efficient way to ask for accommodations at work. We keep everyone’s information safe in our HIPAA compliant portal.
As a founder who is open about your own condition, how has that affected your journey in business?
Getting to build workplace tools that support people like me has been the most fulfilling job in the world for me. Because I’ve experienced this pain point myself, I uniquely understand the need for a product like Disclo. Having this personal experience keeps me motivated to solve this problem so that people don’t have to choose between their health and their career, ever.