Six reasons to create a disability-confident workplace

Businesses that create a supportive, inclusive environment for employees with disabilities have a lot to gain, as Jo Stubbs explains

Attracting and retaining talented staff is crucial for any successful business. This means having a positive and supportive working environment in which people can thrive. Part of this is ensuring your organisation is disability-confident. 

XpertHR’s good practice guide on disability highlights six key reasons why creating a disability-confident workplace is good for business:

Companies benefit from employing people in roles that suit their skillset

Employers that genuinely want to recruit and retain the best people must concentrate on ability, rather than disability, to maximise people’s talents and skills. By focusing on key skills and competencies, employers can minimise any bias in recruitment and employ the best person for the job.

Organisations that are open to change and receptive to new ideas prosper

Employees with disabilities have often had to develop resourcefulness, creativity and the ability to look at situations differently to find solutions to manage their condition. They are likely to bring these skills to the workplace, applying innovation and creativity when serving customers and drawing on their tenacity and resilience.

Many potential customers will have a disability or be disability aware

It is estimated that one in three of the UK population has a disability or is close to someone who does – representing significant buying power.

Organisations that have the knowledge and skills to interact with individuals with disabilities will be in a good position to gain a larger percentage of this market. Employing people with disabilities helps companies have better insight and knowledge about how to provide the products and services that customers with an interest in disability want.

Turnover of employees with disabilities is often low

Loyalty and commitment to their employer is common among employees with disabilities. In particular, organisations that create opportunities for people who have been out of work for some time due to a disability are likely to reap rewards, as such employees are often motivated and keen to contribute fully to their workplace.

The personal circumstances of staff change

The incidence of disability increases in employees over the age of 45. With an ageing workforce it is inevitable that more employees will develop a disability during their career. This means that organisations risk losing experience and talent unless they adopt an ethos of retaining staff whose circumstances change, either personally or because they are affected by disability.

It can help minimise litigation and reputational risk 

Employers that put in place the necessary adjustments for people with disabilities and other inclusive policies and practices also minimise the risk of disability discrimination claims, potentially saving their organisation substantial costs. An employer's reputation can also be negatively affected by discrimination claims, impacting on the quality and motivation of future recruits and the engagement and productivity of existing staff. 

Taking steps to eliminate discrimination and create a disability-confident workplace means having effective policies for all aspects of organisational operations, including recruitment and talent management policies. Training for all staff, particularly line managers, is also essential to help them to understand the organisation's vision. Effective training, alongside monitoring and evaluation of implementation of fair policies, will translate the intent behind the policies into inclusive practices and procedures across the organisation.

Strong leadership, effective management and robust policies will put in place a firm foundation for an inclusive organisation that supports people with disabilities to be productive and fulfilled. 

Jo Stubbs is head of product content strategy at XpertHR