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Employers must gain the trust of disabled employees to collect their data

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Employers need to work on building trust and understanding if they want to have an accurate depiction of their disabled workforce.

A new global report published today (19 April) by the Business Disability Forum, found for employers, collecting employee disability data is growing in importance.

Over half (67%) of respondents in the UK said their organisations were already collecting global employee disability data in some form.

Amongst those organisations that are not currently collecting data, 44% said they intended to do so within the next 18 months.

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said employers need to collect data on their disabled employees to benefit the future workforce.

She said: “Employers need an accurate picture of their workforce so they can provide the best support and opportunities for their employees and help close the disability employment gap.

“When it comes to gender, it is clear that measurement drives transparency, scrutiny and ultimately, results. But measuring disability is inherently much more difficult.”

The report said employers need to be clear about the purpose of any data collecting activity they carry out about their disabled employees, given 65% of employees did not understand the value of sharing data. 

In addition, 45% of employees said they do not feel comfortable with their data being shared.

Lightfoot said over 90% of disabilities are not immediately visible and how to encourage a workforce to share is one of the most frequently asked questions of the forum’s Advice Service.

She added: “Fear of being treated differently is one of the key reasons why employees do not share information about a disability or long-term condition.

“If we want to improve the working lives of disabled people, we need to create cultures built on openness and trust, where disabled employees feel safe to share with their employer,” she said.

The report identified three key reasons for collecting data.

The first is to advance the inclusive culture of an organisation (89%), the second is to understand how many employees have a disability (86%) and the third is to encourage more employees to share that they have a disability (84%).

Collecting Global Employee Disability Data: The challenges and enablers for disability-smart organisations, looked at the experiences of 51 leading global organisations around gathering employee disability data.