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Public sector is UK's most disability confident employer

The public sector is the most committed to the employment of disabled employees, new research has shown.

A report by mobility aid supplier UKS Mobility found that organisations in the public sector were significantly more likely to hold the top level of the government's Disability Confident accreditation. 

The research showed that the third and highest level in the scheme, 'leader', is held by 10% of enrolled public sector organisations, and over half (55%) of those enrolled achieved the second level of 'employer'.

The financial sector had the next highest rate of leader organisations, at 4%.

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With an employment gap of 28% between able-bodied and disabled people, however, employers could do more to accommodate disabled workers.

Disabled people, for instance, are overrepresented in elementary professions, including jobs such as cleaner or packer, but under-represented in managerial and professional careers.

Malcolm Simister, owner of UKS Mobility, told HR magazine that to improve the balance of employment, companies to keep accessibility options open and dedicate resources to making workspaces open to all.

He added: “Schemes like Disability Confident are a great first step in opening up the workplace to all kinds of disabled people and having the evidence to back it up to potential employees.

“However, as is evident from the results of the survey, more workplaces need to dedicate more time and effort to climbing through the ranks and broadening their support for new and existing disabled members of staff."

Angela Matthews, head of policy at the Business Disability Forum, told HR magazine that while the figures from the scheme were welcome, businesses should be asking their employees how they can help them.

“A high number of public sector organisations are signed up to the Disability Confident Scheme. While this is welcome, the scheme alone is not a measure of a disability inclusive employer. 

“Disabled people tell us that not all aspects of their workplace experience are currently captured by the framework. The scheme does not measure disabled employee engagement or instances of bullying or harassment associated with disability, for example." 

The Department for Work and Pensions is aware of this and is currently undertaking a review of the scheme.

Matthews added: “Disability inclusion in the workplace is most accurately measured by the experiences of the individuals who work there. 

The questions that employers need to be asking themselves are, she said: “How do people feel when they are at work? Are they listened to and included? Are they able to be themselves? Are they able to thrive?"

Chloe Smith, minister for disabled people, told HR magazine that she was pleased to see so many signing up to the scheme.

“It’s fantastic to see employers embracing the Disability Confident scheme to create accessible jobs and a more inclusive workforce. 

“All disabled people deserve equal opportunities to thrive and fulfil their potential in a job they enjoy, which is why I’m calling on more businesses to become Disability Confident as we work towards seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.”


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