There are around 13.3 million people in the UK living with a long-term illness, impairment or disability – almost one in five of the population. Albert Einstein and Walt Disney were both born with a learning disability, Stevie Wonder is blind, Beethoven was deaf, and Stephen Hawking has transformed our understanding of the universe.
Despite this, disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.
In January 2016 the UK employment rate among working-age disabled people was 46.5%, compared to 84% of non-disabled people. These figures suggest there’s significant work to do before UK employers can say they’re fully inclusive.
We believe every employer is responsible for helping to reduce the gap in this area and help create a more inclusive workforce. One of our steps towards this was to take part in BBC2’s “Employable Me”.
We were honoured to take part in the documentary, which follows the humbling journey of jobseekers with disabilities.
Nicola Goulding had been struggling to find permanent work, despite a first-class degree and tenacious attitude to her physical disability. Cerebral Palsy had knocked her confidence and our aim, through offering work experience, was to equip Nicola with knowledge and feedback she could utilise in her ongoing job search.
We believe all employers have a responsibility in upskilling in this area and, no matter how inclusive our recruitment processes or working practices are, the stats prove we are all less experienced when it comes to supporting disabled employees compared to non-disabled staff.
Programmes like Employable Me are excellent at increasing awareness and dialogue and the key thing for us, and any company, is to create an environment where everyone – whether they are disabled or not – can contribute and perform at their very best.