Disability and Employment

The cost to the UK economy of barriers to disabled people came under scrutiny this month from several sources, including a new report from KPMG, the audit, tax and advisory services firm. It argues that just 17% of people are born with a disability, and that disability is a life-long phenomenon – it develops as people get older – and it therefore makes economic sense to be more inclusive. “With an ageing population and the age of retirement increasing, this is likely to become even more common. Businesses that don’t address this trend risk losing valuable skills and knowledge from their workforces,” it says. KPMG’s study calls for company Boards to table disability as an agenda item at least once a year; tasking one Board member with the role of “disability champion”; to sign the Government’s Disability Confident scheme (as has 3SC); to become a “disability advocate” by sharing the experience of employing people with disabilities; and to consider forming “external partnerships”. Optimistically, KPMG says: “It’s not hard to picture a future in which disability is part of every company’s customer service training programme; the vast majority of disabled employees share their disability status with their employer; working alongside disabled colleagues has become so normal it’s unremarkable; [and] most people can name a chief executive with a known disability.” 3SC manages an Access to Work contract, which helps disabled people to find and stay in work. Our recent position paper, available here,

From KPMG’s publicly prominence to more local group initiatives – The Sisters of Frida, a collective of disabled women, has launched a new fundraising effort to help finance disabled women to attend events. The inspiration behind the new fund came about by the effort needed to finance a visit to Geneva in 2013, to present evidence from the UK about the impact of austerity on disabled women to the UN’s CEDAW, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Michelle Daley, a co-founder of Sisters of Friday, said “we are testing the waters, doing something new and different, but it is also being done by disabled women for disabled women and with no resources.”

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash