Why employers should make gathering disability data a priority

Disabled people can and want to work, but too many face barriers to entering and staying in employment. Whilst there has been an increase in the rate of employment, disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.

If we want to successfully tackle disability unemployment, then we firstly need to understand the scale of the problem.

We’ve been calling for businesses to improve their understanding of their disabled workforce. That’s why it’s positive that today the Government has announced plans to increase the gathering of disability data in the workplace. In a new framework it has published, the Government is encouraging employers to report on the number of disabled people they employ.

Below we outline what has been announced, and what we want to see happen next.

What does the framework focus on?

The Government has published a voluntary framework for large employers to report on mental health, well-being and disability.

On disability, employers are asked to report on the number of disabled people they employ, along with a narrative to explain what they are doing to recruit and retain disabled employees.

Why is reporting on disability data important?

Disabled applicants are a quarter less likely to be invited to an interview than a non-disabled person. And for every 100 disabled people who move into work, 114 leave.

By collecting and monitoring data on the number of disabled people in the workplace and their overall experience, employers will be in a much stronger position to understand where action is needed to tackle the barriers faced by disabled people, both in and out of work.

Employers already gathering disability data have told us about the value of doing so. Several have said that this information has helped them make the case internally for changes in their recruitment and HR practices.

We know that nearly half of disabled people have worried about sharing information about their disability at work. If reporting is to be a success, then employers will need to ensure their disabled employees feel confident enough to be open about their impairment or condition. This will help create a more inclusive and open environment for disabled people in the workplace, as well as ensuring that data gathered on disability in the workplace is robust.

What do we want to see building on from this framework?

The Government is taking an important first step in understanding better the barriers faced by disabled job-seekers and employees.

In order for reporting to have a real impact in tackling disability employment, there are a number of things that we want to see happen next:

  • The Government must ensure that there is a clear process for analysing any information gathered, and that this shapes future approaches towards increasing disability employment.
  • Any data collected and published by employers is easy to understand and is easy for disabled people to access.
  • As with the gender pay gap, reporting on disability data should eventually be a mandatory requirement for large employers, to encourage wider take-up of reporting on disability in the workplace.

What we will be doing next

We will be publishing a report early in the new year with data on the number of disabled people we employ, as well as data on staff well-being. This will be followed by a more comprehensive report looking at the experiences of disabled people at Scope.

We will also be encouraging employers to publish data in relation to their disabled employees. As part of this, we will be publishing a guide for employers setting out what data they should collect, and how to go about gathering this information.

Check out our website for information for disabled people in work.

Broadcasters commit to doubling the number of disabled staff by 2020. Why aren’t other industries doing the same?

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have recently pledged their support to becoming ‘more inclusive’. Lord Hall, director general of the BBC, said: “As an industry we must do more to increase the number of disabled people working in broadcasting.”

In this blog post, we talk about the Inclusive Workplace Network, a membership network of companies who want to become more inclusive of disabled people – and how your company can get involved.

Work can be of fundamental importance to who we are

For many disabled people, work is of fundamental importance to who they are. Work is not just about the money in your pocket at the end of the day. It brings personal benefits and is seen by disabled people as a way to contribute to society, maintain social connections and promote self-worth.

Ajay, wheelchair user, looking at computer screens at work

While employment is identified by disabled people as being one of the biggest enablers to living the life you choose, getting into and staying in work can be a huge challenge. Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, and the difference in employment rates between both groups known as the ‘disability employment gap’, has remained at around 30 percentage points for over a decade.

To add to that, our recent research uncovered that one in two (53%) disabled people have experienced bullying or harassment at work because of their impairment or condition. And 58% of disabled people have felt at risk of losing their job because of their impairment.

It’s clear these things need to change

Disabled people tell us that there are many barriers that prevent disabled people from finding work and progressing in employment. These include negative attitudes from employers, colleagues and recruitment agencies, inaccessible workplaces, inflexible working practices and outdated policies.

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At Scope we know that to drive societal change we need to drive change in the workplace. We have been working with companies on improving attitudes, behaviours and processes. Many companies also recognise the commercial benefits of changing their culture and becoming more inclusive. The ‘purple pound’ is valued at £249 billion per year, with an online spend of £16 billion. Having a more inclusive working culture and employing more disabled people will give companies a better understanding of this large consumer group.

Gem smiles at the camera in her wheelchair in an office

The Inclusive Workplace Network

In response to these factors we launched the Inclusive Workplace Network, a membership network of companies who want to become more inclusive of disabled people. Members receive a thorough review of several aspects of their business, from their policies and HR processes through to their health and safety procedures. Based on this data collection and staff surveys, they’re given thorough advice, support and recommendations on improvements. We will also provide support from a Scope employment adviser, sessions with Scope Workplace Role Models who will share their stories, and invitations to employment events with other network members.

We will be hosting a breakfast meeting on 30 January 2019 at a Central London location for companies interested in joining the Inclusive Workplace Network. You’ll hear about practical ways in which your organisation can become more inclusive of disabled people by improving accessibility and changing perceptions of disabled people at work.

To register your interest in the event, please contact InclusiveWorkplaceNetwork@scope.org.uk