From education to employment

Outlook 2023: We need to address the disability employment gap

As we look towards the new year, Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell, CEO of the 10,000 Interns Foundation argues why it’s time we change the face of British business for the better, by addressing the disability employment gap. Rebecca demonstrates why the benefits of inclusivity far outweigh the costs, for all parties:

  • The Office for National Statistics’ latest report found that the disability employment rate was 52.7% in Q2 2021, compared to 81.0% for non-disabled people – a grossly unacceptable inequality gap;
  • Research by Accenture in 2018[1] found that companies keen on hiring disabled people outperformed others on many levels – profit margins were roughly 30% higher; net income was 200% higher; revenues were 28% higher; and they enjoyed 4x higher shareholder returns;
  • Despite this, a report by The Valuable 500 and Tortoise Media, which looked at the 2020 annual reports of FTSE 100 companies, found just 5% of them issued board-level statements on disability as part of their leadership agenda. Not one had an executive or a senior manager who disclosed that they had a disability;
  • Another 2019 study by McKinsey found the greater the representation of ethnic and cultural diversity, the greater the likelihood of outperformance, and companies with more diversity continue to outperform those with less;
  • Clearly, inclusive (and specifically disability-confident) employers are winning the race, outperforming their competitors.

“One of the main barriers to closing the employment gap is the false perception many employers have of the pros and cons of hiring disabled people. But the business case for diversity (as demonstrated above) is not just compelling, it’s crystal clear – with the moral case being clearer still.

“The social model of disability helps us to understand that it is not impairments that disable people, but rather, the way we have built the world. We must adapt our systems and structures to harness this pool of untapped talent. Less than three years ago, we proved how quickly we can adapt to a global pandemic. What’s stopping us doing the same for the disabled community?

“This year, our Foundation launched the 10,000 Able Interns programme, which offers any disabled student or recent graduate a paid summer internship from 2023. Our applicants will be some of the most highly educated in the country, but society is holding them back, just because they are disabled. We believe internships can change the trajectory of someone’s life, and employers will hands down learn more about themselves and their business by signing up to our programmes.

Employers: 2023 is the year to address the disability employment gap, and take action – if you don’t, you will surely be left behind.”

Related Articles