There are no executives or senior managers who have disclosed a disability at any of the UK’s top listed companies, according to company reporting.
A report by The Valuable 500 and Tortoise Media, which looked at the 2020 annual reports of FTSE 100 companies, found not a single one had an executive or a senior manager who had disclosed they had a disability, although some did say they prefer not to say or otherwise chose not to disclose.
Just 20 of the 100 companies said they gave all employees the opportunity to disclose disabilities, and just 12 actually publicly reported the total number who did disclose as disabled. The other eight firms that collected this data said they reported internally.
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The report also found a lack of support for disabled employees from executives and senior leadership, with just 5 per cent of FTSE 100 companies issuing board-level statements on disability as part of their leadership agenda.
Suki Sandhu, founder and CEO of Audeliss Executive Search and INvolve, said the lack of disclosure among FTSE 100 leaders was “disappointing” and showed there was “still work to do”.
Ambitious diversity targets and proper data capture were needed to help companies to hold themselves and others accountable, he said, adding it was “time for leaders to go beyond words and statements of solidarity and take tangible action to increase the number of disabled employees that are represented and able to succeed within their organisations.”
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Maxine Pillinger, regional managing director for EMEA at AMS, added that the solution to senior leaders disclosing disability was changes to company culture.
“If we address this issue and create a culture of openness where individuals are more comfortable disclosing this information, we’ll not only see the representation of those with a disability increase, but also discover hidden disabilities in our workforces,” she said, adding that this must be “driven from the top down”.
For many people with disabilities, it “doesn’t always pay” to disclose, said Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, and the results highlighted the need for more accountability. “It is disappointing that only 5 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have issued board-level statements on disability,” she said.
“FTSE 100 companies must be transparent and held accountable when it comes to disability.”
The report – which asked for additional data on disability within FTSE 100 companies and received responses from 36 firms – also found a disparity between the representation of people with disabilities compared to the wider population. On average just 3.2 per cent of employees among the firms that submitted data disclosed as disabled, compared to 18 per cent of the wider population.
Website accessibility and compliance with established guidelines was the most comprehensively reported and achieved measure, with 71 of 100 companies meeting the requirements for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
However, there was evidence that FTSE 100 firms wanted to improve: 16 of the 100 companies set credible targets related to representation of people with disabilities, while 37 are setting up employee resource groups to support people with a disability.
This was most evidenced in the finance sector, which has the highest and most consistent level of reporting and activity, and provides more information on disability than is average for the FTSE 100.