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Disability Pride Month – The Business Case for Equality

Disability Pride Month – The Business Case for Equality
21 July 2021
 

July marks Disability Pride Month, an international event that shines a light on physical, learning, hidden disabilities and mental health conditions, enabling open conversations.

Originating in the USA, Disability Pride's first event was held in Boston after The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1990, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio later declared July Disability Pride Month in celebration of the ADA’s 25th anniversary in 2015.

In honour of Disability Pride Month, we are examining the concept of "disability confidence" as a best practice way for organisations to deliver consistent and respectful adaptations for people with disabilities. 

 

"If the mere word ‘disability’ makes you uncomfortable, how can you and your organisation function? How will you effectively access diverse talent, increase the productivity of an entire workforce, design usable and efficient products and services and enhance the experience of every customer?"

–Susan Scott-Parker OBE

Founder and CEO, Business Disability International

 

What is Disability Confidence?

 

Coined by Susan Scott-Parker OBE, Founder of Business Disability International and internationally recognised thought leader on business inclusion for people with disabilities, disability confidence is a term that aspires to change the way people talk about disabilities. 

The word disability can often carry negative connotations and unnecessary assumptions, disability confidence is about being able and willing to effectively manage a spectrum of human needs.

Scott-Parker poses an important question: "If the mere word ‘disability’ makes you uncomfortable, how can you and your organisation function? How will you effectively access diverse talent, increase the productivity of an entire workforce, design usable and efficient products and services and enhance the experience of every customer?"

A truly disability confident business appreciates how its own corporate disability performance affects every aspect of its business. It does not make assumptions about an employee's potential based on labels and makes adjustments to enable all people to thrive within it.

 

Valued-Added Offering for Customers

 

Along with other ESG considerations, disability is seen as a priority for businesses, and consumer expectations reflect this. Business Disability International highlights the following UK statistics to highlight the impact of disability on consumer access to goods and services:

 

  • 462 million customers (one in three) are likely to have a disability or be close to someone who does
  • 42 million customers (three per cent) may have a visual impairment
  • 140 million customers (ten per cent) may have mobility impairments 
  • 197 million customers (one in seven) are likely to be deaf or hard of hearing
  • 140 million customers (ten per cent) may be dyslexic
  • 224 million customers (one in seven) are likely to have experienced a mental health condition
  • Between 15-18 per cent of any country’s population will have a disability
  • Most disabilities, nearly 80 per cent, are not immediately visible

 

Viewing Disability Confidence as an Opportunity – What are the Benefits?

 

When organisations get disability confidence right, it can bring enormous business and personal benefit. By anticipating the changing landscape of customer expectations, legal and operational risks are minimised and brand reputation is bolstered. Here are just some of the opportunities available to disability confident businesses:

 

  • Unlock business improvement and innovation by creating a more accessible, efficient, disability competent and inclusive workplace
  • Build brand reputation as responsible and sustainable businesses, and as employers of choice for talented persons with disabilities as they learn to adapt for human reality
  • Enhance the experience of every customer while driving innovation while tapping an often-overlooked market
  • Minimise the legal, operational and reputation risks triggered by a compliance culture
  • Employee engagement overall improves when the employer is seen to value the contribution of employees- and potential employees - with disabilities. Gallop research shows companies with high employee engagement scores can see a 20% rise in customer satisfaction
  • Enhance productivity, improve retention rates and reduce absenteeism by becoming more efficient in delivering the tools, flexibility and adjustments which enable every employee to realise their full potential
  • Develop more flexible and effective people management skills, as managers learn how to enable everyone to realise their potential
  • Respond intelligently and proactively to demographic, marketplace and regulatory shifts

 

To get started on making practical changes in your business, visit: https://www.businessdisabilityinternational.org/

Picture: a photograph of some grass, on top of which a sign rests which states "Step Free Route" and an arrow pointing the right. The sign is a vibrant pink colour and displays a graphic of a wheelchair-user

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 21 July 2021

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