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The gap between language and data

Disability workforce reporting and how the number of disabled people in organisations is hardly ever accurately reflected in workforce data stays on our agenda. A recent article in Practice Business by the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at NHS Employers reflects on this issue; he sees the same thing happening in the NHS’ Workforce Disability Equality Standard. Actually, most workplace data reporting benchmarks and frameworks see the same issue. BDF’s Disability Data Monitoring Working Group is now in its second year of working together and we are starting to wrap up our work together and will be publishing our findings and recommendations by the summer.

We have debated and discussed ways forward around the key issue that underpins the issue of ‘under reporting’: that employers tend to measure diversity by ‘numbers of’ (disabled employees) at the same time as wanting an inclusive workplace culture. An inclusive workplace culture is not one where we try as hard as possible to get everyone to tell us their information; it’s one where we create the culture and space for people to do so if they want to. This is why the Working Group is focussed on the central question, have we got diversity workforce monitoring and reporting frameworks wrong? And, importantly, are they actually the most inclusive way forward?

Our Employee Network Leaders Forum has had a crucial role in testing and challenging the recommendations and working arguments that the Working Group have produced, and we have been thrilled by how interested our member community have been by data for so long.

Members can still join our Disability Data Monitoring Working Group for our last tranche of work on developing guidance on effective disability workforce reporting. Contact our policy team to get involved at

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