Improving conversations about disability at work will bring huge benefits to employers and employees - Scope

Posted On: 
6th November 2017

Almost 50% of disabled people report feeling uncomfortable with sharing information about their impairment or condition in the workplace, finds Scope.

Scope suggests embedding flexible and more remote working practices across organisations to support disabled staff.
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Imagine going to work and feeling as though you are not able to be yourself. With your boss and with your colleagues. It could make you feel uncomfortable. Especially if there was a lack of understanding about why you felt you couldn’t be yourself.

It is a heavy burden to carry.

For some people, the stress of feeling like you are hiding something so important could lead you to walking out of the door at the end of the day and not bother coming back.

That is the reality for almost 50% of disabled people in the workplace who report feeling uncomfortable with sharing information about their impairment or condition in the workplace.

Negative employer attitudes, or in some cases a lack of understanding of disability, mean disabled employees often struggle to access the support and adjustments they need to successfully carry out their job.

Our new research “Let’s Talk” focuses on improving conversations about disability in the workplace. It shines a light on the situation facing disabled people at work. The report shows that nearly half of disabled people are worried about sharing information about their impairment or condition at work. And that for those brave enough to raise their heads above the parapet and ask for adjustments that will make doing their job easier for them, two in five have been made to feel uncomfortable about doing so.

Against this reality is a Government manifesto pledge to get 1 million more disabled people into work by 2027. The scale of this challenge cannot be underestimated, especially when considering that the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has been stubbornly stuck at around 31% for over a decade.  

To achieve this ambitious target, we need to see a fundamental change in the culture of the workplace that supports disabled people to speak freely about their disability.

Encouraging conversations about impairments and conditions between employers and their disabled employees will help to create an environment where disabled people are seen for what they can do, rather than what they can’t do. This will lead to greater staff retention and productivity for employers which in turn will support the government in its ambitious attempts to get a million more disabled people into work.

That is why today our new report into improving conversations about disability at work encourages employers to ensure line managers have access to information and resources to support disabled people to talk openly about their impairment or condition. We suggest embedding flexible and more remote working practices across the organisation to support disabled staff.

Allied to this, we urge the Department for Work and Pensions, amongst other things, to develop, with employers, best practice guidance for line managers who employ disabled people so that there is universal, industry-standard, information available for every business in the country.

Improving conversations about disability at work has huge benefits for employers and employees. Together, businesses, the government and the third sector should do everything possible to change the culture of the workplace so that disabled people can maximise their potential at work. 

You can read the full Let's Talk report here