About 4.4 million workers in the UK have a disability of some kind. Given how common both visible and hidden disabilities are in the UK, accommodating disabilities in the workplace and creating an inclusive workplace culture is an absolute must.
People with disabilities tend to find it more difficult to gain and retain employment. However, overall, the statistics for people with disabilities in the workplace are slightly improving:
- According to Scope, the disability equality charity, 19% of working age adults are disabled.
- They also reveal that people with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.
- The data shows that one in three people with disabilities believe there’s a lot of disability prejudice.
- One in three people see people with disabilities as being less productive than non-disabled people.
The employability of disabled individuals is monitored by the Government, and the recent statistics reveal the following during October – December 2020:
- The number of people with disabilities in employment has increased, but the proportion of people with disabilities who are in employment has fallen.
- 8.4 million people of working age (16-64) reported that they were disabled in October-December 2020, which is 20% of the working age population. This is an increase of 327,000 from the year before.
- 52.3% of people with disabilities were in employment, down from 54.1% a year previously. The employment rate for people who are not disabled was 81.1%, down from 82.2%.
- 400,000 people with disabilities were unemployed.
- The unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 8.4% in October – December 2020, up from 6.9% a year previously. This compared to an unemployment rate of 4.6% for people who are not disabled
Despite small positive steps in the right direction, organisations in the UK need to do more to create a more inclusive environment for disabled individuals.
The business case for inclusivity
There is a strong business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as businesses are under pressure to keep evolving, and to demonstrate their commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in support of their business sustainability, growth and reputation.
Organisations are considering new ways to encourage more people to apply for and remain in roles by becoming more inclusive. One way to do this is to establish an EDI strategy that will help to facilitate the recruitment and retention of disabled workers.
To embrace these effectively – including all genders, sexualities, abilities, and the other characteristics that make up the UK workforce – decision-makers must develop a diversity and inclusion strategy. This kind of strategy can help to make your business more inclusive and welcoming to all: staff, partners and customers alike.
change a physical feature (entrances, exits, toilets) of premises to make them more accessible
Reasonable adjustments and their importance
One crucial way that an organisation can become inclusive for disabled individuals is by ensuring that they have made reasonable adjustments.
Organisations must take positive steps to remove barriers that individuals will face because of their disability. This is to ensure that they receive the same services, as far as this is possible, as someone who’s not disabled. The Equality Act 2010 dictates that every business has a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Under the Equality Act 2010, adjustments should be made to ensure that an individual can access the following things if they are disabled or neuro-diverse:
- Access to goods and services like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals and leisure centres
There are three different things that organisations can do to make reasonable adjustments for an individual.
This can range from changing the way things are done (e.g. holiday/sickness policies), changing a physical feature (entrances, exits, toilets) of premises to make them more accessible, or providing additional aids (extra staff assistance, information in alternative formats such as braille).
Disability and recruitment
If you are an inclusive employer, it is important to ensure that during the recruitment journey you create a pathway that will support a disabled applicant during the recruitment process. Techniques to achieve this include:
- Change your mindset on disability – We should all seek to challenge our own mindset on how we view disabled individuals and recognise that any barriers encountered by People with disabilities are not the result of their disability or impairment, but rather a result of how our society is not designed to support them.
- Find a skills gap – disability and neurodiverse individuals can help fill a skills gap in an organisation. Understand where this is when recruiting.
- Target a larger talent pool – consider how you attract current applicants and how this net can be cast wider to appeal to disabled candidates. Consider engaging with support groups and specialist recruiters.
- Changes for the interview – interviews can be a daunting prospect for anyone, so plan on how these can be reasonably adjusted for someone with a disability. Is more time needed? Do you need to change the location for accessibility reasons?
- Broaden your understanding of disability – not all disabilities are visible, and there are numerous types of disabilities and impairments that all necessitate varying levels of assistance, including and beyond wheelchair users. The more you understand about varying disabilities, the more prepared you will be to support someone.
Provide additional aids (extra staff assistance, information in alternative formats such as braille)
Disability inclusivity needs to continue to improve in the UK, and organisations need to be as open and accommodating as possible to ensure that they attract and retain disabled individuals.
By being more inclusive, organisations can amplify the voices of those who have lived experiences to share and helping individuals to secure employment is a huge step forward in this.
It’s time to close the disability employment gap, and we can all help make that happen.
For more information on how your organisation can be more inclusive of the disabled community please visit EW Group.
Interested in this topic? Read: Are your hybrid working plans inclusive of disabled people?