Opinion: Culture change holds the key to reducing the disability employment gap
Lloyds Banking Group’s Judith Butler explains how the high street stalwart is making its workforce more representative of its customers
Earlier this year the world was captivated by the extraordinary achievements of the disabled athletes who competed in the Invictus Games and Paralympics. Not only were they thrilling to watch, these events have served as an excellent example of how individuals – irrespective of their disabilities – can fulfil their potential when given the right opportunities. It’s a lesson that can, and should, be applied to the business world.
Data from the Work and Pensions Select Committee shows that, at the end of 2015, the UK employment rate among disabled people stood at 46.7 per cent – compared with 80.3 per cent for non-disabled people. Research from Scope suggests that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of disabled adults feel they have lost out on a job opportunity because of their disability. This issue is a growing priority for the government, which recently committed to halving the disability employment gap, but it still requires greater focus from businesses.
We’re working hard to build an inclusive bank that reflects the diversity of modern Britain. The ability to achieve our goal to Help Britain Prosper rests on being able to recruit and retain the best people, and to do so we need to access the broadest pool of talent possible. This naturally includes people who have disabilities.
We’re still in the early stages of our journey, but we’ve identified five key changes that organisations can make to transform their cultures so they are more inclusive of disabled people:
1. Treat disability inclusion in the same way as other business issues
For us, developing a strategy that includes clear targets and milestones, and defined roles and responsibilities, has been crucial. Our disability strategy has support from across the organisation and focuses on areas such as recruitment, learning and development, communications, IT and property. Bringing business leaders together regularly ensures we keep the right level of focus on our disability agenda.
2. Recruit inclusion champions within senior leadership
Executive buy-in is crucial to ensuring that disabled colleagues feel supported and engaged. Our disability commitment is led by David Oldfield, whose visible leadership drives the changes needed.
3. Set realistic targets
As with anything in life, if you have a target, you’re more likely to get something done. With goals in place, organisations can measure progress and ensure they are on track. In 2014 we announced our public commitment to increase the engagement scores of disabled colleagues to 70 per cent by 2020. When you identify what you want to change, you can establish the metrics you will use to quantify and assess progress, and be honest about what is realistic within your given timeframe.
4. Ensure disabled colleagues have access to a supportive working environment
The most obvious barrier to the participation of disabled people in the workplace is accessibility. We’ve had great success with our centralised adjustments model, which helps colleagues to resolve any accessibility issues quickly and free from dependencies on localised budgets. Through continuous improvement, we’ve reduced the average case duration from 46 days to 14, and seen more than 30,000 adjustments made to support colleagues. Organisations looking to implement similar programmes could take advantage of the expertise that charities and specialist partners hold in this area.
5. Create a groundswell of support
Finally, creating a groundswell of support is crucial to the success of any inclusion programme. We’re extremely proud of our colleague network, Access, which now has more than 4,000 members. It connects disabled colleagues from across the business, organises awareness days and events, signposts people to additional sources of support and runs a mentoring scheme. For small businesses, we’ve found that even something as small as a resource bank can make a big difference.
While much is already being done to improve business’s attitudes to disability there is more to be accomplished. The disability employment gap is an issue that organisations across the country need to face up to.
Source: CIPD people management