Increasing employment inclusivity for people with disability

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

The pandemic disproportionately impacted people with disability when it came to employment opportunities, which only heightened existing barriers. So as the pandemic recedes, I want to discuss a critical topic: how can we level the playing field as a business community?

Education is key 

As with any social change, education is a powerful tool. As both employers and community members, we must understand the facts and dispel the myths. And with disability employment, there are many misconceptions.

The biggest misconception, in my mind, is that people with disability are a single group with shared characteristics. Unfortunately, this belief is often the driver behind stereotypes, unconscious bias and discrimination.

Disability takes many forms, and it’s important not to jump to conclusions, particularly when it comes to what someone can or can’t do. As with any other candidate, a person with disability will bring their own unique attributes, skills and experience to your organisation.

Skills and experiences are diverse

In any job seeker pool, some candidates are suited to physical work, others to desk-based roles, some are good at customer service, others are better behind the scenes and so on. And this is no different for candidates with disability. The skills, abilities and aptitude of people with disability are just as broad and diverse.  

However, there is often a misconception that people with disability are best suited to unskilled roles, and that is another stereotype.

In reality, the representation of people with disability in management roles is the same as for people without disability. According to ABS Workforce Data 2018/19, managerial roles were held by 10.9% of people in the wider workforce and 10.8% of employees with disability. And for clerical and administrative roles, the figures were also similar, tracking at 11.3% across the entire workforce and 13.2% for employees with disability.

Cost is not a genuine barrier 

Another common misconception is that hiring someone with disability is expensive. This is another broad typecast that can become an employment barrier for the one million Australians with disability who are working or looking for work.

Sometimes hiring a person with disability will involve minor modifications to either the physical workplace or things like hours and duties. Sometimes it may involve a small investment in assistive technology. And sometimes, there will be no changes required at all.

In fact, employment costs for people with disability can be as low as 13per cent of employment costs for other employees. In addition, there is government support available to eligible employers if modifications are required.

Employer benefits abound

Whether or not changes are required, the focus should be on the value your new hire can add to your organisation. And the business benefits of hiring someone with disability are many. According to the Australian Government’s Job Access initiative, these include:

  • Boosting team morale and enhancing the sense of teamwork across the organisation;
  • Reducing absenteeism as studies show people with disability take less sick leave and stay in jobs longer, and;
  • Enhancing the organisation’s image in the community and building strong connections with customers.

Inclusive hiring in practice

Most organisations have inclusive hiring policies, but it’s also essential that these are lived behaviours and values too.

It’s important to make sure you aren’t inadvertently excluding people with disability through your recruitment practices. Some areas to consider are:

  • The job advertisement: Language is important, so it’s worth asking yourself whether you are accidentally excluding people with disability by your word choice. This video from Job Access is a helpful resource.
  • The application process: Make sure your application process is accessible and inclusive. The seemingly minor details, such as type font and sizing, can make a massive difference to someone using assistive technologies or devices to complete the process.
  • The interview and selection process: When interviewing a person with disability, it’s important to understand how and when to ask questions. This video provides a useful guide.

Actively recruiting people with disability

VERTO has a long history of delivering quality Disability Employment Services, and we see the individual, business and community benefits of hiring people with disability every day. It can be life-changing for employees and employers alike.

We focus on making the right match between employer and job seeker, providing pre-and post-placement support to ensure the opportunity works for everyone.

If you want to widen your talent pool and explore opportunities to hire job seekers with disability, get in touch with our team on 1300 4 VERTO (1300 483 786).