Many of Australia’s 4.37 million people with disability are still experiencing barriers to employment and according to disability employment experts, this issue is depriving businesses of a highly loyal and productive talent pool.
The Social Deck’s recent Community Consultation Report for the Australian Government Department of Social Services, found that the majority of people with disability, carers, service providers and academics (53 per cent) believe that accessibility and inclusion in communities is improving.[i]
Yet this has not always translated into action says leading Disability Employment Services (DES) provider and atWork Australia’s DES Ambassador, Shaun Pianta.
“While the findings point to a better future for Australians with disability, nearly a third (31 per cent) of people with a disability reported that discrimination has increased and 34 per cent said that experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation has worsened over the past five years,” he says.
Debbie Brooks, atWork Australia’s National Diversity Employer Manager, explains how businesses can play an important role in creating an equal and inclusive workspace, and reap significant benefits from hiring people with disability.
“Over four out of five (86 per cent) employees with disability have superior attendance over their peers[ii], and 90 per cent are as productive or more productive than other workers[iii],” she says. “It’s also well documented that employees with disability generate less turnover and fewer workplace injuries than other workers[iv]. Hiring a person with disability shouldn’t be seen as an issue to be overcome, but an opportunity to build stronger teams,” she adds.
Here, Shaun and Debbie shed light on misconceptions with inclusive recruitment and discuss why it’s good for business.
Don’t assume that a person with a disability can’t complete the same tasks as their peers
“As a person with disability, the worst thing you can do is assume that someone isn’t capable of certain things due to their disability,” says Pianta. “You will be amazed how people can adapt and find new ways to do things.”
“My advice to employers would be that if they can create a workplace where the person with disability feels comfortable to ask for help and can have access to the right technology that can best support them, it will allow the person to complete their role to the best of their ability.”
It doesn’t cost more to hire someone with a disability
“It is often assumed that employing people with disability carries additional costs,” says Brooks. “However, employers should be aware that this isn’t the case. It is clear from the research that employing people with disability costs exactly the same as employing those without[v].” To ensure this is the case, the Australian Government provides funding for eligible persons, through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) which has been implemented to cover the costs of meeting accessibility requirements. This can include buying equipment and accessing services for people with disability.[vi]
“Organisations who are dedicated to diversity, including employing people with disability, will also minimise risk of injury, alleviate complaints or breaches of discrimination law, and strengthen a cost-effective business,[vii]” says Debbie.
Diversity creates engagement
Inclusive workplaces are likely to be more engaged, motivated and productive, and employees will stay with a diverse business for longer.[viii] Opening up recruitment strategies to facilitate the employment of people with disability also opens the door to other diverse groups, helping businesses meet HR targets and benefit from accessing the full talent pool.
An inclusive workforce enables better connections with your customers
The Australian Network on Disability says that a workforce which reflects the diversity of the wider community is also likely to lead to greater customer loyalty and satisfaction across industries[ix]. “A workforce that reflects your customer base, creates a better connection,” says Shaun.
By creating a space where all employees have equal access to employment, Australian businesses can access the full talent pool with benefits to productivity, retention and the bottom line.