Virtual Special Issue: Ableism returns to work post-COVID 19

New Content ItemAnica Zeyen (i), Royal Holloway University of London,

Oana Branzei, Ivey Business School, Western Ontario,


Previously unseen forms of discrimination against the 15% of world population currently experiencing some form of disability peaked along with the first wave of the global pandemic. Policy-mandated quarantine re-opened old battlefields as hard-earned accommodations were abruptly withdrawn and human rights overtly violated (Zeyen & Branzei, 2020). Returning to work post-COVID19 carves out emergent arenas of collective action, where purposeful interplay of embodied emotion and energy can render interactions not only less punitive, but also more productive. Will this crisis of conscience be remembered as a set-back or a step forward for the disabled community?

This depends on our collective willingness to become anti-ableists in our diverse workplaces. Ableism (Campbell, 2009), simply understood as a socially-sanctioned preference for species-typical normative abilities, remains an important bottleneck for tackling other forms of structural oppression and intersectionalities rooted in our different bodies, minds, and, therefore, (perceived or presumed) abilities.

We selected five articles to till our theoretical and practical ground of anti-ableist frictions, encouraging ethical foresights fit for a post-COVID19 world. How can new forms of justice, individual autonomy and non-malevolence “return” to our varied workplaces (Ståhl, MacEachen, & Lippel, 2014)? While vulnerability remains central to post-crisis decision-making (Brown, 2013), today’s society can make room for the multiple unrecognized competencies of vulnerable groups (Bernstein, Bulger, Salipante, & Weisinger, 2019), seriously probing our current conceptualization of employability (Audenaert, Van der Heijden, Conway, Crucke, & Decramer, 2019), and promoting safe self-representation and life-long identity development through self-employment (Martin & Honig, 2019).


Zeyen, A., Branzei, O. (2020). "Disabled" by COVID19?, COVID19 Insights from Business Sustainability Scholars,

Campbell, F.K. (2009). Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness. London: Palgrave Macmillan 


Ståhl, C., MacEachen, E., & Lippel, K. (2014). Ethical Perspectives in Work Disability Prevention and Return to Work: Toward a Common Vocabulary for Analyzing Stakeholders’ Actions and Interactions. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(2), 237–250.

Brown, E. (2013). Vulnerability and the Basis of Business Ethics: From Fiduciary Duties to Professionalism. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(3), 489–504.

Audenaert, M., Van der Heijden, B., Conway, N., Crucke, S., & Decramer, A. (2019). Vulnerable Workers’ Employability Competences: The Role of Establishing Clear Expectations, Developmental Inducements, and Social Organizational Goals. Journal of Business Ethics, online, 1–15.

Bernstein, R. S., Bulger, M., Salipante, P., & Weisinger, J. Y. (2019). From Diversity to Inclusion to Equity: A Theory of Generative Interactions. Journal of Business Ethics, online, 1–16.

Martin, B. C., & Honig, B. (2019). Inclusive Management Research: Persons with Disabilities and Self-Employment Activity as an Exemplar. Journal of Business Ethics, 0(0), 0.

(i) Our long-term equal collaboration is co-created through ally ship, an equal, engaged, and mutually enlightening model of impassionate and resonant scholarship that leverages our respective identification with the disabled and temporarily-abled communities of inquiry and honors the dual ontological and epistemological perspectives accessible through our embodied ways of seeing today’s world.