Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New employment report highlights ‘disability workplace divide’

An international report on employment and the workforce has found that employees who are disabled are less happy across the board than non-disabled employees.

Similarly to last year, the annual WorkL Global Workforce Report 2024 paints a picture of a ‘disability workplace divide’.

The report, which uses data from over 60,000 organisations across the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, found that people with disabilities are more likely to want to leave their jobs, they are at heightened risk of poor wellbeing, and have the lowest levels of confidence in management compared to other groups.

UK lagging behind other high-income countries

While wellbeing scores have improved this year overall, the report has found that disabled people are more likely to be at risk of poor wellbeing at work (known as ‘Wellbeing Risk’).

The Wellbeing Risk for disabled people currently sits at 36%, 5 percentage points above the global average of 31%. In the UK, wellbeing risk is even higher at 38%, compared to the national average of 33%.

Confidence in management is key for employee’s happiness at work, but the UK also has the lowest confidence in management score of 67% for disabled people. The global confidence in management score is 71%.

Disabled people living in the UK were also found to be more likely to want to leave their job (known as Flight Risk) compared to non-disabled people (37% vs 28% respectively). However, the report notes that disabled people may also find it more difficult to leave their job than those who are non-disabled.

Employers must ‘shift the dial’

Commenting on the report’s findings, Lord Mark Price, the Founder of WorkL, said: “This snapshot of the state of the world’s workforce is intended to inform and inspire organisations to understand how they can better motivate their employees. Headlines from our annual global report underline the need for employers to support minority employees better. The ongoing struggle people with disabilities face in the workplace is all too apparent in our data.

“This report paints a picture of a workforce with a ‘disability workplace divide’: people with disabilities suffer a high flight risk, meaning they’re more likely to want to leave their jobs than people without disabilities. Similarly, we are also seeing risk to their wellbeing and they have the lowest score when it comes to their confidence in management.”

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is now calling for employers to ‘shift the dial’ when it comes to creating fair and equal workspaces. She says despite the prevailing narrative that the world is now more accessible for disabled people, they are still coming up against a variety of barriers both in and outside the workplace.

She said: “One of the things I feel very strongly about, and it’s probably rich coming from me as a Paralympian and an ex-athlete, is when people tell me 2012 changed the world. The Olympics in 2012 were stunning but they did not change the world for disabled people in any way shape or form. The South Bank in London is a bit more accessible and we now have lifts at Kings Cross and Green Park, and a few other things, but the reality is only a third of London’s tube stations are accessible.

“Whilst it’s important that we talk about employment, we have to think not just about disabled people, but the social model of disability and impairment and actually ask ourselves: ‘What are companies doing?’ [We need them] not just to open their doors but to really shift the dial.”

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