Why is representation and inclusion important for businesses?
It’s the right thing to do and it’s good for your business too:
- In our recent Global Disability Inclusion Research, more than 90 per cent of the global businesses involved in the research stated that ‘disability inclusion is the right thing to do’ at a global level.
- According to the same research, more than 80 per cent stated that it allows them to access a wider pool of talent, drives employee motivation, has an impact on sales and opportunities and supports business objectives.
- Businesses can’t afford to exclude a significant part of their talent pool – this is even more important in the current climate when organisations are having to adapt quickly in order to survive.
- Diverse businesses and teams are more successful: Representation and inclusion reflect a wider range of experiences and viewpoints and that leads to better product and service design as well as decision making.
- Disabled consumers have significant spending power; in the UK the “Purple Pound” is estimated at £249bn annually and globally, this is a market the size of China!
- Increasingly selective and ethically minded consumers want to see businesses doing the right thing.
- The legal case – businesses that overlook diverse groups risk discrimination.
Representative and inclusive workforces: are there challenges?
- Do you know how many disabled people are in your workplace? With more than 90% of disabilities and long term conditions not being immediately visible, the chance are that you already employ many more disabled people than you think you do! Are you supporting them to be the best they can be?
- Workplace culture is key – do people feel comfortable sharing with you their condition and asking for the support they need?
- Leading from the top – senior managers set the tone. Do they feel confident to share personal stories and become a role model?
- People Manager confidence – Are your people managers familiar with workplace adjustment processes, inclusive design and policies? Do they have the confidence to ask all their team what they need?
- Language, messaging and values – do your organisational messages include or exclude? Are they consistent?
What are the common misconceptions?
Misconception: Disabilities are present from birth.
Reality: Only 17% of disabilities are present from birth. 83% are acquired during the course of someone’s life – which means it’s just as important for retention as for recruitment.
Misconception: It’s all about wheelchairs and physical disabilities.
Reality: Whilst physical accessibility is really important – and we still haven’t cracked it as standard in 2021 – over 90% of disabilities are not immediately visible. So you probably already employ more disabled people than you think!
Misconception: Performance management is more difficult or even impossible.
Reality: You can performance manage a disabled employee just as you would another employee – as long as you make sure that any barriers related to their disability have been removed first and you have provided effective workplace adjustments to support this (and we have lots of information to help you on adjustments – what they are, how to make them, how to check if they are effective and “reasonable”).
Misconception: Attendance management is more difficult or even impossible.
Reality: There is no reason why a disabled employee should have more time off sick with common ailments than other employees. We recommend measuring planned disability related absence (for example for a medical appointment) separately to standard sick leave to avoid these being confused. By making adjustments to help people work in a way that suits them – helping them to manage fatigue, pain or anxiety for example – you can make a really positive impact on attendance and performance.
Misconception: Adjustments are expensive.
Reality: There are many cheap or free solutions, and the average cost of making an adjustment is less than £180. Depending on the size of your business, Access to Work – a government funded scheme – can help meet all or part of the costs of adjustments! Don’t know what this is? You can contact Business Disability Forum to find out about Access to Work and more about accessibility in business. Remember too that it costs more to rehire than to make adjustment to retain an employee who becomes disabled.
How can businesses overcome the fear of getting inclusivity wrong?
- Too often, people are afraid of getting it wrong so do or say nothing. That’s far worse! Leaders and managers worry about saying the wrong thing but just saying something and normalising the conversation is hugely powerful.
- You don’t need to be an expert! Just ask: “How can I help you or what do you need?” And if someone doesn’t react in the way you expect, take a step back: is something else going on?
- We have lots of tips on language and our Members and Partners get access to our Inclusion Communication Toolkit.
- Ask us! We are here to help.
What tools and resources are available to organisations?
Business Disability Forum membership, which includes:
- The Advice Service and Resources
- Toolkits about Mental Health, Neurodiversity, Inclusive Communications, People Management, Redundancy and Redemployment
Create an inclusive workplace today:
We know that fear can often put organisations off tackling inclusion. Fear of getting it wrong and fear of the complexity of the task.
At Business Disability Forum, you will find experts who will support you all the way through your journey to becoming Disability Smart!
Just contact now Business Disability Forum and start today.
Read and watch what our members and partners say about us.