Having been through the mainstream education system as a special needs student, I have definitely had my ups and downs. Primary and secondary school were fine (I did the same lessons as everyone else). However, attitudes changed when I left secondary school to become a college student.
I found it hard applying and attending interviews for courses I really wanted to do, because tutors, heads of departments and other staff said that I wouldn’t be able to do the courses, due to my needs and how my conditions could affect the learning experience of others. I felt I had to prove myself more when being accepted onto a course. When talking to learning support, I was told they couldn’t do anything to help as it was up to the tutor if they wanted me on their course or not.
I saw a pre-pandemic study reporting that almost 1 in 10 businesses feel they are not able to support an employee with a disability or health condition.
This got me thinking, if disability and diversity is not being recognised in the beginning stages of learning, how can we as a society not be worried by difference? Everyone deserves the right to learn and to work, whether that be working for a business, or as an entrepreneur.
A study carried out by the Institute of Corporate Productivity shows that 3 out of 4 employers ranked disabled employees to be just as good as, or even better than others, in terms of work quality, attendance and motivation.
6 reasons why you should employ disabled staff
1. Disabled employees are more likely to stay and become very loyal to a company. This is partly due to the fact that disabled people face certain difficulties when it comes to the job searching process. This means that the money spent on recruitment and training are less likely to be wasted.
2. Employing staff with disabilities promotes an inclusive work environment which encourages staff to empathise (which helps in job roles such as customer service). It also helps the business reflect society and stand up to social misconceptions.
3. Hiring and promoting people with disabilities shows consumers with disabilities, as well as their families and friends, that they are valued, which may cause them to think more favourably on the company and encourage them to become or stay a loyal customer.
4. It’s hard for an employer to find the right person for a job being advertised and businesses are making the process tougher for themselves if they cut a significant percentage of the workforce out of the talent pool. A candidate’s disability may not affect their ability to do the job role they are going for.
5. An important key to building a business that has the potential to thrive is to have a can do attitude. People with limitations often receive negative comments, but from having these experiences, many disabled people think of different or new ways to achieve their goals. This means they have good problem solving experience and are great creative thinkers!
6. Disabled people are more likely to ask for help from different people, as they are used to doing so on a regular basis for daily tasks. This means that disabled candidates can make great team players and can communicate with others effectively.
We all have something to offer to the world and deserve the chance to share it!
This article was written for The Diversity Trust by Bryony Moss, Disabled Actress, Model, Disability & Mental Health Advocate.
You can connect with Bryony on LinkedIn.