Employing Disabled People
This is the second in a series of short blog posts sharing an overview of content explored on the Empowered Employers learning programme.
As part of the Empowered Employers campaign, we have been delivering a learning program for a range of employers across Gloucestershire. The learning program is unique in that it has been co-designed by Jane Hatton (CEO of Evenbreak), Experts by Lived Experience, and commercial employers from across the county.
In the second instalment of our miniseries, Jane Hatton talks about the benefits of employing disabled people and dispels some of the common misconceptions about disabled people and work.
Why Should We Employ Disabled People?
Many employers see employing disabled people as an act of charity, or as part of a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative. However, employing disabled people has nothing to do with pity, and everything to do with talent. Here are just a few reasons why employing disabled people may be beneficial for your organisation:
- Including disabled people in your search for talent increases your chances of attracting the right person for the job (around 20% of people of working age are disabled or have long-term health conditions). That’s a lot of talent to miss out on.
- On average disabled people are just as productive as non-disabled people – sometimes more so. Someone using speech-to-text software may be quicker and more accurate than someone relying on their keyboard skills, for example. Some neurodivergent people can have hyper-focus, and complete tasks more effectively.
- On average disabled people have significantly less time off sick than our non-disabled colleagues. We face barriers anyway (see blog 1 in this series about the social model), and tend to just plough on if we’re ill.
- Disabled people tend to stay in our jobs longer, increasing retention. If we feel valued and supported, we may not want to risk moving to a new place which might treat us badly. It’s also important to retain employees who acquire a disability or long-term health condition (about 2% of the workforce every year)
- Disabled people have, on average, fewer workplace accidents. If we know we are at risk of injury, we put things into place to prevent it happening. This often means colleagues are safer, too.
- Disabled people and our families are consumers with valuable spending power. Can your business afford to ignore this? Over £250 billion in UK alone, and £8 trillion, globally.
- If you deliver products or services to disabled people, employing people with lived experience can inform best practice. Inclusion and accessibility are automatically built-in.
- Disabled people often develop skills in order to navigate round a world not designed for us. Innovation. Problem-solving. Creative thinking. Resilience. Useful skills for your business!
- Disabled people may have additional skills which your organisation would benefit from (e.g. neurodivergent people spotting patterns, or thinking differently).
- Having a good reputation for inclusion attracts more customers and the best candidates – disabled or otherwise.
- Being a good inclusive employer raises morale amongst all your employees
- There is widespread proof of the business benefits of a diverse workforce. Disability forms an important part of that diversity.
- The benefits of inclusion go far beyond helping disabled people – everyone benefits.
- The costs associated with inclusion are far less than you think, and the benefits far outweigh them.
Having said all that, it’s just good practice to remove barriers that might prevent any candidate from engaging in your business. We don’t need a long list of business benefits to encourage us to employ people with brown eyes, or people taller than 6 feet, or any other group. Let’s just open up opportunities for everyone.