'Clear business case' for diverse workforce

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Although some organisations have made considerable progress in addressing disability and employment more effort is needed to overcome employers’ resistance, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD report – ‘Diversity in Business: how much progress have employers made?’ – finds the diversity issues that are most frequently covered by organisations in their policies are those protected by anti-discrimination legislation, such as disability.

Yet still 40 per cent of organisations fail to include disability in their diversity policy which suggests employers still have much more progress to make.

Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, says: “There is a clear business case for recruiting a diverse workforce, which includes opening doors to disabled people, such as reflecting a broader customer base, improving products and services to meet more diverse needs and improvements in the recruitment and retention of talent.

“A diverse workforce – recruiting people regardless of disability, background, gender, and age – will help employers to adapt to the challenges organisations face in today’s highly competitive and complex global marketplace, enabling them to find opportunities to grow new business ideas, identify new markets and keep ahead of competitors.”

The CIPD report, ‘Incapacity Benefit Reform: Why it is Needed and How to Engage Employers’, investigates employer attitudes to long-term Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants’ employability. It includes findings from a survey of 750 employers, drawn from all sectors of the economy, and shows:

  • 33 per cent of employers say they deliberately exclude people with a history of long-term sickness or incapacity when recruiting staff. This includes people with disabilities
  • Even among employers who do not exclude the long-term sick only 3 per cent target them as part of their recruitment strategies
  • 43 per cent of employers surveyed think long-term IB claimants would be less productive at work
  • 60 per cent think long-term IB claimants would be more prone to absence
  • 26 per cent think long-term IB claimants have potential but 32 per cent also think they would be less adaptable, and 45 per cent that they would be less reliable.

“There is a perception that people with disabilities are more likely to take time off work due to sickness absence than able bodied people,” adds Worman.

“CIPD research shows that employers are wary when it comes to hiring people with a history of health problems, especially those who have been jobless and on incapacity benefits for long periods of time which can include people with disabilities.”


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