Spotlight on Disability

Our diversity and inclusion questions for organisations with over 50 employees covers gender and ethnicity pay gaps, which have become more mainstream areas of focus over the past few years.  Less pronounced, perhaps, is that of people with disabilities, but it is a specific facet of diversity and inclusion that we have included in the GBC accreditation.  Why?  Because we believe that so often people with disabilities can be overlooked or misunderstood.  We genuinely believe responsible organisations should be held accountable for how they ensure people with disabilities are included and represented in the workforce.

Guided by the Experts

I had a fascinating conversation with Scope earlier this month which served to heighten my sense of how important this is.  They have undertaken detailed and thought-provoking research into the barriers disabled people face in the workplace and have positioned themselves as experts in helping organisations understand the issues and improve their practice in this area.  I have spoken to some GBC members about their progress in monitoring disability and some admit that they find themselves at a very early stage in the journey.  We acknowledge that it is not straightforward which is why I particularly value the way Scope has set out information to help businesses and other organisations ensure people with disabilities feel included.

Their employer’s guide sets out helpful tips in this area as well as important background such as:

Disabled people are under-represented in today’s workforce, with just half of disabled people in employment. However, there are more than one million disabled people who aren’t in work who would like to work.

Scope firmly believes that what gets measured gets done.  By monitoring representation of your workforce and by measuring the experiences of disabled candidates and employees, businesses will become better equipped to attract this untapped talent pool.

In order to do this, Scope recommends that employers gather:

  • the number of disabled people they employ
  • information on the number and quality of adjustments offered
  • a comparison of average earnings between disabled and non-disabled staff
  • the number of disabled employees in each pay bracket.

This would be our recommendation also.  Of course it starts with the challenge of gathering that data in the first place and, as with ethnicity measurement, it is really important that employers clearly explain why they are collecting the data and how collecting the data will help disabled people in their job.  Sadly there are still too many stories where a person with a disability discloses it, but instead of getting support and encouragement, finds themselves misunderstood and sidelined.

Let’s Talk

Scope found that:

  • Nearly half of disabled people (48%) have worried about sharing information about their impairment or condition with an employer.
  • Only half of disabled people we surveyed (49%) are aware of their rights as a disabled employee.
  • Several disabled people said they experienced negative comments after talking about their impairment or condition at work.
  • Some disabled people who had positive experiences said this helped them to get the support they needed.

I would encourage you to read Scope’s  Let’s Talk, which looks at disabled people’s experiences of discussing disability at work.  Having spoken to the team there, I know they would be only too happy to help you in your organisation as you seek to champion disabled people and cater for their needs.