HomeEmployee ExperienceDEI&BDiversity & InclusionThe benefits of disability diversity in the workplace

The benefits of disability diversity in the workplace

  • 6 Min Read

Equal opportunity should be apparent in any workplace; whether employing a very small selection of staff or hundreds in an office, warehouse or even on the shop floor. Each and every candidate should be given the opportunity to fulfil the job role regardless of a disability or impediment. However, is this universally what is happening within workplaces?

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A business should aim to showcase equality and diversity in the workplace, in the sense that any applicant or employee is given fair treatment to carry out their job without issue. It may come as a surprise, but not every business is free of discrimination and often, the employment of disabled candidates can be seriously overlooked.

Nearly 7 million people in the UK are currently living with a disability or health condition; many of whom have the desire to be in the workplace. It is no secret that there is an obvious gap between the proportion of fully abled employees and those whom are disabled within one workplace.

The cost of hiring a disabled employee doesn’t have to be expensive, but several reasonable alterations may have to be made for disabled employees to go about their tasks without struggle. For example, adapting the premises of the workplace and adapting equipment for those with physical impediments. For those with psychological disabilities, presenting information in other formats and allowing extra time for tasks may be necessary.

Making sure a business welcomes disability within the workplace is not only the correct thing to do, but it also welcomes a vast selection of benefits too. Encouraging applications from disabled candidates will not only portray a good image for a business but will also:

1. Increase amount of suitable candidates

Searching for a suitable employee is never easy, therefore closing off the opportunity to disabled people is not only against the law, but also reduces the opportunity of finding the most suitable candidate for a job role. According to Work Without Limits, “Individuals with disabilities represent an untapped candidate pool for businesses. Recruiting and retaining people with disabilities is one approach to counter the effects of the aging and shrinking workforce.”

Many studies have shown that disabled employees are even more reliable that those with no impairments. It has been studied that they are far less likely to take a sick day and more included to remain in one particular workplace longer than fully-abled employees.

2.  Reflects wide customer base

Alike the customers and clients a business deals with on a day-to-day basis, disabled employees can empathize with any particular needs that certain customers may have when it comes to a particular service. For example, a deaf employee may be able to assist customers who struggle communicating through sign language and can therefore can bring their own additional skills to the business.

3.  Can boost productivity and creativity levels

All employees work together to achieve one set goal; so, a much more diverse company can boost productivity levels through using a wider variety of talents. Employees learn from one another; through the use of different strengths and experiences, meaning fresh ideas are brought to the table and hence, can achieve development.

Creativity is also a major factor of a diverse work environment, in which those with different viewpoints and perspectives can understand issues in a different light – meaning problems can be solved at a quicker pace when it comes to decision making. If for example, your product or service can be tailored to a particular individual, disabled employees may be able to give insightful knowledge as to how your company could adapt the product or service to attract a wider audience; and especially those with disabilities who perhaps may have missed out beforehand.

Penny Mordaunt speaks out for the disabled

In 2016, Marketing Week carried out a survey which displayed there was an obvious lack of representation of disabled employees within workplaces across the UK. Those surveyed claimed only 51% worked alongside a disabled person, while only a minor 22% of consumers believe that disability is well-represented both in the media.

While this may be the case, it seems that global brands are now aiming to change the way in which disability is looked upon in the workplace and distinct changes are now being put in place.

Britain’s international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt is working towards challenging the discriminations of hiring disabled employees. In July 2018, she spoke to several global leaders, with the aim of combatting the negative implications associated with disability in employment.

Mordaunt described the disabled as “the most discriminated against in society”, before going on to say: “In many parts of the world, people with disabilities simply don’t count. They are neglected and isolated. They are attacked and abused. They are invisible.”

Speaking in 2017, she added: “I am bringing technology companies, governments and charities together at the UK government’s first-ever global disability summit in London in July 2018, to show our commitment to transform the lives of people living with disabilities.”

Global brands aim to clamp down on disabled prejudice

Back in 2015, global brand Microsoft paved the way for the future of disabled employees within workplaces, when they announced the firm would be hiring individuals with autism for full-time positions at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington. A spokesperson claimed that the company intended to give those with the disorder a chance to use their talents within the field of technology.

Mary Ellen Smith, Microsoft’s vice president of worldwide announced the news on the company’s blog. “Microsoft is stronger when we expand opportunity and we have a diverse workforce that represents our customers,” she wrote in the post. “People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft. Each individual is different. Some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code.”

After the meeting with Penny Mordaunt in November last year, senior director of Microsoft, High Milward also went on to suggest that the company is still aiming to tackle the stigma around disability: “Microsoft believes that technology can play a critical role in removing barriers and empowering people with disabilities. At this moment, the world is at the dawn of a data and technology-driven fourth industrial revolution, and these technologies enable governments and organisations to change the way they deliver services to their communities, customers and colleagues.”

Proctor and Gamble are another global organisation who have high hopes on defeating the stigma surrounding disability in the workplace. For decades, the company has been one of the most recognized for household and products in the world. The brand already made headlines when it aimed to stamp out gender inequality, by changing the label of their Fairy liquid to ‘Fair’ as a campaign recognize and challenge stereotypes surrounding women. Similarly, the brand has strong viewpoints on the way in which disabled and carry out their beliefs through flexible working strategies to give all candidates equal opportunity.

According to their website, Proctor and Gamble are ‘advocates of diversity’ and encourage employees to express themselves in whichever way they desire. With this attitude in mind, the brand have been ranked as one of the ‘ top companies for people with disabilities’.


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