Following on from the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, the Equality Act of 2010 has further strengthened disability legislation across every part of the UK, meaning all employers are obliged by law to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for employees who have a disability within the work environment. But, as we’ll see, attitudes are already changing in the workplace, as organisations begin to see the benefits of hiring people with disabilities in order to create a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Benefits of hiring people with disabilities
19% of the UK population and nearly seven million people of working age are registered as disabled, but only around 50% of those are working compared to 80% of non-disabled people of working age. However, many of these are actively seeking work in order to pursue a fulfilling career.
Clearly, those businesses that don’t adopt an inclusive approach when it comes to recruiting could risk falling foul of the law. But by actively encouraging applications for people with disabilities, employers are accessing a much wider pool from which to source the best talent for their businesses. People with disabilities can add considerable value to a business as they can be more motivated than those without a disability and can even increase loyalty and morale across the company, lowering staff turnover, which in turn can lead to decreased recruitment and training costs.
Furthermore, in the UK, employers can be financially incentivised as part of the Access to Work scheme. This initiative provides funding for the necessary adaptations to the workplace, as well as assistance from support workers. By providing this adaptability for workers, employers can gain even more productivity right across their organisations.
Technology is helping
A changing mindset and government legislation are making a difference. More and more employers are making the necessary adaptations to the workplace in order to hire workers with disabilities. Support schemes mean that many employers are finding the financial effects of making changes for disabled workers as cost-neutral.
But new technology is helping too. Assistive technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) is allowing employers to meet their statutory obligations in a cost-effective way, improving the working lives and productivity of employees with disabilities while creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace for the whole workforce. These assistive technologies include predictive text, speech-to-text transcriptions, as well as voice and visual recognition tools.
Big businesses are driving change
People with mobility impairments can operate their computer using eye control such as IntelliGaze, while people with intellectual disabilities can now safely and securely access technology with a fingerprint, iris scan or facial recognition, using Windows Hello. For those with impaired vision, Microsoft’s Seeing AI app describes people, text and objects aloud. Indeed, Microsoft is continuing to invest heavily in accessibility initiatives. Other big-name companies that have made a conscious effort to bring more people with disabilities into the workplace include Dell, CitiBank, IBM, Cisco, and Deloitte.
All of this means is that there are more opportunities than ever for disabled people looking to enter the workforce, or progress to the next stage in their careers. At Zoek, we currently have a number of employers throughout the UK that are looking to add disabled candidates to apply for vacancies, including jobs in Birmingham, jobs in Kent, jobs in Newcastle and jobs in Nottingham. To find out more, start your job search at Zoek today.
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