Levelling Up for Employees with Disabilities in the UK

In recent years, the UK has witnessed a significant shift towards creating more inclusive workplaces, particularly for employees with disabilities.

There were 5.53 million working-age disabled people in employment in October to December 2023.

What Does “Levelling Up” Mean For Employees with Disabilities?

“Levelling up,” signifies a commitment to providing equal opportunities and support for individuals with disabilities in the workforce. Essentially, it is about fostering an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute meaningfully to the workforce.

In March 2023, the Government published the Transforming Support white paper with proposals aimed at helping “more disabled people and people with health conditions to start, stay and succeed in work”.

Furthermore, in 2024 Labour announced its intention to extend the rights to claim for equal pay to include the protected characteristic of disability.

Let’s explore some examples (and sources) of this “levelling up” progress.

Inclusive Hiring Practices for Employees with Disabilities

This may involve providing targeted recruitment efforts and ensuring that job postings are accessible to all. Microsoft UK’s Disability Answer Desk is a prime examples of an initiative aimed at hiring and supporting individuals with disabilities.

Many companies are adopting inclusive hiring practices to attract and retain employees with disabilities. In 2022 Opening Doors launched a flagship inclusive recruitment campaign. Its ambition is to make two million jobs more accessible by inspiring businesses to change the way they recruit. Specifically, the campaign identifies 25 actions that help level the playing field for all jobseekers, regardless of their background or experience.

Accessible Workplaces

When developing a strategy to support employees with disabilities companies are investing in making their workplaces more accessible. This includes implementing features such as wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, ergonomic workstations, and assistive technologies. For example, Barclays has been recognised for its commitment to accessibility, with initiatives like adjustable desks and screen-reading software.

Equally, it’s essential that employers they recognise that one size really does not fit all.

Advocacy and Support Networks

Organisations like Disability Rights UK play a vital role in advocating for the rights and needs of employees with disabilities. They provide resources, guidance, and training for both employers and employees, advocating for policy changes to promote inclusivity in the workplace.

Mentorship and Career Development

Mentorship programs are instrumental in supporting the career growth and development of employees with disabilities. The Business Disability Forum offers mentoring schemes connecting individuals with disabilities to experienced professionals, providing guidance, support, and networking opportunities.

Celebrating Success Stories for Employees with Disabilities

Highlighting success stories of employees with disabilities is essential for raising awareness and inspiring others. Platforms like Disability Confident showcase stories of individuals who have overcome barriers to achieve success in their careers, demonstrating the potential and talent within the disability community.

Attitudes towards people with disabilities

Return on Disability Group study shows that it is people, not “stuff” that most determines the experiences of People with Disabilities.   In the workplace, it is interactions with managers, colleagues, and customer that largely determine whether a career is perceived as positive or negative. Working with employers to help mpre people thrive in their job is the key to levelling up for employees with disabilities.

“When someone acquires a disability, some managers can be afraid to start the conversation about reasonable adjustments. But often, making an adjustment to retain rather than recruit for the position is much less costly – just 7% of what recruitment would cost.” (Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum)

Conclusion

In essence, “levelling up” for employees with disabilities in the UK signifies a collective effort to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable workforce. By addressing barriers, promoting accessibility, adopting inclusive practices, and celebrating achievements, the UK is moving closer towards realising the full potential of all its workers, regardless of their abilities.

Such efforts will not result in quick change and require consistent concerted effort. This may involve challenging biases and stereotypes, promoting inclusion and diversity initiatives and fostering a culture of transparency and fairness in pay practices.

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