Someone with a disability is more than twice as likely to be unemployed then someone without a disability.
This is an appalling statistic which highlights the scope of disability inequality in the Irish workplace.
Many disabled people can and want to work, but encounter barriers or bias when seeking employment.
Disability discrimination, wherein a person is treated unfairly due to being disabled, is illegal under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 (EEA). However, the current disability employment gap shows that much more needs to be done to develop and maintain equal opportunities for disabled people in the workplace.
What is being done to improve disability inclusion?
In 2019, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) acknowledged the scope of disability discrimination in employment and announced plans for a new legal code of practice to promote greater employment of disabled people.
To understand the experiences of disabled people in Ireland, a new Disability Participation and Consultation Network was established by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth last year. Its purpose is to provide a mechanism for disabled people and their representative groups to have input on the formation of policy and legislation in Ireland.
Ireland is due to submit its Initial State Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for which the Department has recently been holding stakeholder consultations.
For the lives of disabled people to truly be transformed, a community effort is required. Everyone has a part to play when it comes to improving disability inclusivity.
Improving disability inclusivity in the workplace
By law, employers must make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of employees and applicants with disabilities.
Additionally, employers can show a commitment to improving equal opportunities for disabled people in the workplace by actively promoting an inclusive working culture.
Internships, student placements and traineeships that welcome young disabled candidates can help to build valuable work experience and encourage disabled youth to realise their full potential.
Those who become disabled later in life may already have a wealth of knowledge and experience behind them and just need the opportunity to show that they are the right person for the job.
Becoming a disability inclusive employer helps to break down the barriers to employment that many disabled people currently face and can encourage disabled people to apply for vacancies with you. It also shows a commitment to current staff and can benefit your business in many ways.
Benefits of disability inclusion in the workplace
Businesses that embrace disability inclusion can see far reaching benefits for their people and their organisation.
From accessing a wider pool of talent with new ways of thinking to higher levels of engagement and staff retention.
An inclusive company culture that allows everyone to be themselves at work produces happier and more productive employees.
Disability can happen to anyone, at any time in their life. To see an improvement in disability inclusivity in Ireland, make a positive change today and ask about how you can become a disability inclusive employer.