Almost a fifth of working age people in the UK are disabled or have a health condition. However, currently, 49% of disabled people have a job compared to 80.2% of non-disabled people. That’s a lot of talent companies are missing out on. The Government is committed to addressing this and has the ambition to get more disabled people into work over the next ten years.

The Disability Confident scheme is a key enabler in achieving this goal. It is a Government-led initiative designed to support employers to make their workplaces more open, accessible, diverse and inclusive. It’s designed to help you recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talent.

At the CIPD we strongly believe in the need for employer action to ensure talented people with a disability are able to achieve their potential in work. Examining your hiring practices is essential to make sure you’re not missing out on talented people. Furthermore, with 83% of people acquiring their disability while in work, we need to get much better at knowing how to support people to stay in employment and remove barriers to achieving potential.

Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled people, health and work, recently attended a roundtable event we ran with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Peter Cheese, CIPD’s CEO, chaired the event and we invited senior HR leaders from the policy forum to debate how we can encourage more employers to be disability confident. This roundtable was an opportunity for the Minister to hear employers’ views and ideas related to the Disability Confident scheme, including how to make the labour market more accessible to disabled people, what employers can do and how Government can best support employers.

Part of the discussion focused on the possibility of having a portal for employers, bringing together in one place links to organisations and resources employers may need to become truly disability confident. Attendees suggested how this portal could look and what it could include to be of most value to businesses (in particular small businesses) who want to support their staff well but are not sure where to go for help.

The importance of line manager knowledge and understanding was highlighted as particularly key to having a truly inclusive workplace, with this group of staff requiring access to training and ad hoc support. Another aspect of the discussion was focused on how to encourage more employers to sign up to the scheme. Having employer case studies was seen as important to provide examples of good practice and to demonstrate that even small adjustments at work can make a big difference for people.

We’ll be continuing the work with the DWP to help encourage other organisations to look carefully at their workplaces and practices, removing barriers to disabled people applying for jobs or progressing in their company. We’re proud to be a Disability Confident Leader ourselves. We joined the scheme as we strongly believe that inclusive workplaces benefit individuals, businesses and wider society. Through this accreditation we can continue to attract talented people into CIPD, and for talented people to want to work for us.

As one example of what we’re doing, we’re continuing to promote mental health awareness and support at work. Mental health awareness training has been rolled out across our workforce to our first aiders, many of our line managers and now staff more broadly. We want our people to feel as comfortable talking about mental health as physical health. A lunch and learn session was well-attended by staff, mental health is a prominent part of any well-being days and activity and our HR team regularly reminds staff about the EAP service and how to access it. Externally we’re a voice on numerous high profile steering groups, with CIPD Policy Adviser Rachel Suff working collaboratively with organisations such as the mental health charity Mind and the CIPD has been actively supporting the Royal Foundation’s Head Together campaign with Mind to end stigma around mental health. We are also feeding into the workplace aspects of the Prime Minister’s review of mental health support led by Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer.

Find out more about what we’ve been doing at the CIPD to become Disability Confident and hear directly from our staff:

The CIPD is part of the disability confident employer scheme, ensuring our workplace is open, accessible, diverse and inclusive. Find out what we’re doing to ensure talented people, including disabled people and those with health conditions, want to work for us in this short video.

About the author

Jill Miller, Senior Policy Adviser, Diversity and Inclusion

Jill is Senior Policy Adviser for Diversity and Inclusion at the CIPD. Her work focuses on the areas of gender, age and neurodiversity and she has recently led work on race inclusion, managing drug and alcohol misuse at work, and supporting employees through fertility treatment, pregnancy loss and still birth. Earlier in her career, Jill specialised in small business growth through good people management and employee wellbeing.

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