Almost half of UK businesses (45%) are apprehensive about hiring someone with a disability because of fears they will not be able to do the job and concerns around accidentally making inappropriate comments, according to not-for-profit organisation Purple.
Purple's research found that one in five (22%) business owners and hiring managers admit they are worried about interviewing someone with a disability in case they do or say the wrong thing.
Fears include using the incorrect terminology (32%) and not knowing whether they should help with things such as opening doors or pulling out chairs (38%). One in five employers (21%) said falling foul of discrimination law was a real concern.
Mark Grimley, director of HR at disability charity Scope, told HR magazine that employers are not alone when it comes to these concerns. “Our research shows the majority (67%) of Brits feel awkward around disabled people,” he said. “The important thing is to focus on the person, not their impairment.
“Disabled people are pushing hard to find jobs and get on at work, but they continue to face huge barriers – including employer attitudes. Research by Scope shows that a staggering 74% of disabled adults feel they have lost out on a job opportunity because of their impairment. This is a waste of the talents of disabled people, who are a vital and often untapped resource for the UK labour market.”
Grimley added that often just minor adjustments will be needed. “By creating flexible, modern workplaces and making small adjustments, more employers can benefit from the skills and experience of disabled people,” he said.
“As with all employees, disabled people who feel valued, have the opportunity to develop their careers and contribute to the success of companies are engaged and will be more productive. Part of this is employers being confident in understanding how to get the most out of their employees, including disabled people.”