With 80% of Irish employers reporting difficulties in recruiting employees (ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey), are employers severely limiting themselves by failing to explore the untapped talent of people with disabilities?
In this blog I will be discussing some of the many benefits that disabled employees can bring to enrich and add to the success of companies.
The 2016 Census found that 13.5% of people in Ireland are living with a disability. Despite making up a large sector of the population, only 36% of disabled people of working age are actually employed in Ireland (ESRI). Employers need to address this urgently and recognise the benefits which the disabled population can bring to the workplace. Currently, Ireland is severely lagging behind its peers when it comes to hiring disabled people of working age. We have the 4th lowest employment rate when compared to other EU countries.
With the current talent shortage facing the Irish job market, employee retention has become even more crucial than before for employers. The best way to combat a talent shortage after all is to ensure that you keep the talent you currently have! Studies show that disabled employees tend to seek reliable work when job seeking and also report much higher levels of job satisfaction, reducing the levels of turnover while simultaneously improving the workplace environment. Research has also indicated that the motivational levels of disabled employees are significantly higher-than-average. High levels of motivation result in a higher standard of customer service, increased loyalty to the employer and a more positive working environment.
More and more employers are recognising the necessity of an inclusive workplace. However, this 'inclusivity' can not only stop at the hiring level, with proper pathways toward leadership and management needing to be put in place to ensure top-down equality and inclusion. A 2013 study by Deloitte found that when employees feel they are in a workplace that is committed and supportive of inclusion, they report better business performance in terms of ability to innovate (83% uplift), responsiveness to changing customer needs (31% uplift) and team collaboration (42% uplift).
In the age of social media, public image and displaying a commitment to corporate social responsibility has become more important than ever. A commitment to inclusivity across the board, which includes the disabled population, can enhance a company's reputation, whilst also improving business as clients and customers become more likely to seek out companies which prioritize diversity and inclusion. According to Startups, there was a 25% increase in the likely profitability of companies with executive teams in the upper quartile for diversity compared to those in the lower quartile, displaying the concrete economic positives garnered from inclusivity.
Therefore, while as a country we have made enormous strides in equality within the workplace, a focus on equality which ignores the disabled community is incomplete. We must recognise the many bonuses of having an inclusive workplace which values and recognises the quality which disabled employees can bring.