Inclusion | Organisations failing to put disabilities on their leadership agenda

Organisations failing to put disabilities on their leadership agenda

More than half (56%) of global C-Suite executives rarely or never discuss disability on their leadership agendas, new research has found.

The study, conducted by EY on behalf of #valuable, surveyed business leaders at C-Suite level from a range of industries across 17 countries worldwide, finding that disability is still woefully absent from Board-level discussions. This is in spite public conversations promoting the benefit of diverse and inclusive organisations for both employers and employees.

#valuable’s Founder, Caroline Casey, said that the research suggests that there is still a long way to go to ensure that disability inclusion is discussed at Board level and viewed seriously enough to be incorporated into global business strategies. She said:

“In the last 30 years, bold business leadership has played a crucial role in driving social change. Now is the time for us to see a bold leader stand up for disability.”

Moreover, the research found that just seven per cent of business leaders identify themselves as disabled, despite 15% of the global population living with a disability. And, just one in five C-Suite leaders would feel comfortable admitting their disability to colleagues, proving that there is still a lot of work to be done to change this.

Casey added: “Although 7% of leaders identified in this survey have a direct connection to disability, there are very few leading high-profile voices for disability inclusion.”

And it seems that many problems shrouding disability inclusion can be solved by changing the attitudes of a company’s leadership team. The research found an increased willingness to incorporate disability inclusion into the company’s agenda if senior leaders have experience with either a disabled family member or Board-level colleague.

Additionally, the visibility of senior leaders with a disability increases the prevalence of about diversity inclusion at Board-level.

Subsequently, 63% of C-Suite executives who are aware of disabled Board-level colleagues say that disability is discussed by the leadership team, compared with just 37% of those not aware of any disabled Board-level counterparts.

And, senior leaders with a disabled family member are far more likely to report disability on their leadership agenda (54%) than senior leaders without a disabled family member (37%).

Last year, HR Grapevine reported on a Government challenge fund which was launched to help tackle the disability employment gap which remains wide open.

The £4.2million fund, run by Rocket Science, was launched to support individuals with mental health or musculoskeletal conditions remain in work. And, this formed part of the Government’s strategy to encourage one million more people with disabilities into work by 2027.

The initiative was launched by the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton and the Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities, Jackie Doyle-Price.

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Newton added: “We know there is a gap between disabled people who want to work and those who have the opportunity to do so. With 78% of people acquiring their disability or health condition during their adult life it’s crucial that we support disabled people who want to work to stay in or return to employment.”

And this is just one initiative sought to level the playing field for disabled people.

So, prioritising disability inclusion is important, not only for avoiding discriminatory breaches, but it will also help employers unlock untapped talent pools.

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