Despite awareness about the disability employment gap, British businesses have far to go to increase accessibility for disabled job candidates, with a lack of adjustments and bias about ability big issues.
These findings come from recruitment firm PageGroup and back up Government research that shows that 8.4 million people in the UK are disabled and of working age, yet only 4.4 million are in employment.
With businesses facing candidate shortages, plugging the disability employment gap is good for the livelihood of the disabled community and businesses themselves. To help understand why organisations aren’t hiring more disabled candidates, PageGroup polled 1,000 business leaders.
Why employers aren’t hiring disabled talent
The top five barriers to hiring disabled talent listed by business leaders are below:
- Having the right internal support to accommodate the needs of disabled staff members – 23%
- The cost of modifying equipment / technology for disabled employees – 23%
- Concerns around legal proceedings if disabled hires don’t work out – 20%
- Additional resource commitment to onboard disabled workers – 20%
- A perception that disabled people may lack the right skills – 20%
This shows that employers don’t have the adjustments in place to make disabled candidates feel included in an organisation, which is preventing them from making disabled hires in the first place.
Also revealed is limited knowledge of the accommodations needed for disabled workers, concerns over associated costs, and biased perceptions about their ability in the workplace. This is seen in the 20% that fear they may “lack the right skills” and those with “concerns around legal proceedings” if they don’t work out.
Diverse hiring in some areas and not others
PageGroup’s research shows that businesses have been trying to attract more diverse candidates in the last year via inclusivity training to interviewers (35%), with 34% altering language in job adverts to remove gender bias. Yet, less effort is being made to attract disabled candidates specifically.
They found that only 27% have introduced tailored job adverts for people with sight difficulties or adopted ‘text to speech apps’, and just 13% have hired a “specialist recruiter that can advertise a role to underrepresented communities, such as disabled people.”
Hiring with diversity in mind is one thing, but if businesses don’t create a welcoming atmosphere with the right adjustments to help underrepresented groups thrive, they won’t stay.
However, PageGroup is working to bridge the gap between businesses wanting to and actually hiring disabled and other underrepresented candidates.
PageGroup: empowering businesses and disabled job-seekers
The recruiter is offering online content to help businesses improve their workplace diversity and inclusion, including interactive inclusivity workshops, a Diversity & Inclusion Fitness Assessment and Strategy Development. They are also promoting learning around unconscious bias and inclusion.
As well as providing learning resources, PageGroup recently launched a D&I Solutions team to help “build partnerships to match talented disabled individuals with future employers.”
Ollie Thorn, a wheelchair user, has been appointed PageGroup’s Client D&I Manager for the team, which consists of employees from underrepresented communities.
He said: “Our research highlights a huge awareness challenge that disabled people must overcome to obtain employment in the UK. The truth is, I recognise how I am one of the luckier members of this underrepresented community in the workforce.
“However, there are many like me who have not had the same opportunities to find work. The team I am leading are committed to unlocking the hidden talent within the disabled community and providing a meaningful difference to the lives of millions of people.
“We cannot solve disability inequality in the workplace alone, so I urge businesses to get in touch so we can help educate them as they navigate their D&I strategies.”
Steve Ingham, CEO of PageGroup, said: “During a time of national skills shortages, it is extremely disappointing that businesses are not broadening their talent pools to include disabled candidates as they search for applicants to fill the gaps in their organisations.
“The disabled community has so much potential and untapped talent to offer the workplace. I am confident that many of the disabled individuals I have met are capable of fulfilling the jobs of ‘able-bodied’ workers and, in many instances, would far exceed the expectations of business leaders and HR managers.
“As a disabled person in a wheelchair myself, I have seen firsthand the hidden workforce that the disabled community represents and recognise the critical need for businesses to find ways to appeal to this community more and understand the strengths they offer.”