The Employment Divide
Finding meaningful work can be difficult for anyone, but for people with any type of impairment it is much, much harder.
People with disabilities do not have the same access to work opportunities as does the rest of the workforce because of archaic beliefs, ignorance or ill-founded prejudices.
Employers often have prohibitive concerns and pessimistic ideas about hiring people with an impairment —such as the belief that it will be expensive or candidates with disabilities aren’t qualified.
A business owner once explained to me that he could never employ a person with an impairment, as his workers compensation premiums would rise because of occupational health and safety issues.
Unfortunately, there is a common mind-set that impaired people are to be pitied; that you only do something for them out of a sense of obligation, duty or charity. ‘You might employ them to make them feel better about themselves, but you’re not really going to get anything out of it. They’re not going to fit in’ – sadly this is a shared belief among many business people.
It’s dispelling these sorts of biased views through education and raising community awareness which became one of the foundation pillars of 30 Foot Drop.
Recently, we began a series of webinars about the benefits to business of employing people with an impairment.
The aim of the webinars is to promote employment diversity which attracts and retains people from the widest possible pool of talent and employees in inclusive workplaces.
Inclusive places of work are likely to be more engaged, motivated and productive. Studies conducted in Australia and overseas have found no differences in performance and productivity. Employees with an impairment actually have fewer scheduled absences and they are likely to stay with your business longer.
Abilities, Not Disabilities
People with disability bring high potential and a diverse range of skills and abilities to the marketplace and work in a wide range of occupations and industries.
There are many Australian people with an impairment who have broken through the barriers of prejudice or discrimination and are successfully employed. Over one third are working in professional, managerial and administrative positions.
Contrary to common misconceptions, evidence shows that employing people with an impairment does not cost any more than employing people without disability.
From our experience and viewpoint employing people with an impairment should make a lot of sense to business, however, this requires overcoming a fear of the unknown and looking at abilities rather than disabilities.
Benefits to Business
Employees and customers with an impairment represent a substantial opportunity to any business. In fact, more than four million Australians, that’s one in five people, suffer some form of impairment.
Numerous studies have shown employees and customers are more loyal to organisations that demonstrate they value diversity and inclusion and that their workforce reflects the wider community. Increasingly evidence of inclusion is also taken into consideration in the awarding of contracts and tenders.
The big employment challenges facing people with an impairment means they are not going to apply for positions unless they genuinely believe they can undertake the role. The majority - 86% - have the same or better attendance rates than able bodied workers.
In addition, assistance with the cost of making workplace adjustments is available through the Australian Government funded Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). This can include buying equipment and accessing a range of other services to support the employment of people with impairments.