Fifth of business leaders ‘unlikely’ to hire candidates with known disabilities

two people talking to illustrate the growing number of disabled people in self-employmentRecruitment firm PageGroup has releases a study which claims to shine a light on the wide range of perceived barriers facing disabled individuals in the world of work. The findings reveal how far UK businesses still have to go to level the playing field for disabled candidates. According to Parliamentary Briefing Papers on Disability Equality in the Workplace, 8.4 million people in the UK are disabled and of working age, yet only 4.4 million are in employment. During a period of candidate shortages across multiple sectors, PageGroup polled 1,000 business leaders to understand the obstacles their business faces when looking to hire disabled candidates.

Despite the range of perceived barriers, many businesses are making steps to enhance hiring processes for all demographics, which suggests that becoming more inclusive is a business priority for leadership. In the last year over a third (35%) of companies have offered inclusivity training to all interviewers of potential candidates, and 34% have altered the language in job adverts to remove gender biased language. However, there is a drop off when considering policies which directly benefit the disabled community searching for employment. Only a quarter (27%) have introduced tailored job adverts for people with sight difficulties or adopted ‘text to speech apps’. Furthermore, only 13% have hired a specialist recruiter that can advertise a role to underrepresented communities, such as disabled people.

The findings of the PageGroup report suggest the top five common barriers business leaders face are:

  1. Having the right internal support in place to accommodate the needs of disabled staff members – 23%
  2. The cost of modifying equipment / technology for disabled employees – 23%
  3. Concerns around legal proceedings if disabled hires don’t work out – 20%
  4. Additional resource commitment to onboard disabled workers – 20%
  5. A perception that disabled people may lack the right skills – 20%

Steve Ingham, CEO of PageGroup said: “During a time of national skills shortages it is extremely disappointing that businesses are not broadening their talent pools to include disabled candidates as they search for applicants to fill the gaps in their organisations. The disabled community has so much potential and untapped talent to offer the workplace. I am confident that many of the disabled individuals I have met are capable of fulfilling the jobs of ‘able-bodied’ workers and in many instances would far exceed the expectations of business leaders and HR managers. As a disabled person in a wheelchair myself, I have seen firsthand the hidden workforce that the disabled community represents and recognise the critical need for businesses to find ways to appeal to this community more and understand the strengths they offer.”

Caroline Casey of the Valuable 500 also commented: “At a time of the “Great Resignation” and employers searching for talent, PageGroup‘s research highlights the huge opportunity that companies getting inclusion right enjoy – and the need for businesses to improve disability inequity in the workplace at all levels. 18 percent of the U.K. population have a disability – they also have huge talent. The Valuable 500 is striving to fundamentally transform the global business system and fight for an equal and inclusive society for all. By engaging with the world’s largest organisations and thought leaders and ensuring that disability is on their agenda we can collectively reach our goal of inclusion. We have developed and created tools to support our business leaders and their boards on their inclusion journey.  At some point in our lives, every single one of us will experience disability and we all have a responsibility to make humanity function better.”