Scope calls on disabled people to 'come out' at work

Employers are being encouraged to create environments where disabled staff members feel confident “coming out” about their condition or impairment, but can also share information on their own terms.
 
Nearly half of disabled people (48%) have worried about telling employers about their impairment or condition, new research by disability charity Scope found.[1]
 
A new survey found two in five disabled people who have requested vital workplace adjustments said they felt uncomfortable asking.[2]
 
More than a quarter of disabled people believe they have been turned down for a job because of their condition or impairment.[1]
 
Only half of disabled people (49%) surveyed felt they were aware of their rights as a disabled employee.[3]
 
The figures come as the charity publishes a new report today based on in-depth interviews with disabled people who work in a variety of industries across England and Wales.
 
Some participants described the benefits of being able to “come out” as disabled at work, such as being able to fully be themselves, build support networks with other disabled colleagues and tackle myths around disability, while others said avoiding sharing information about their condition or impairment made them feel uncomfortable.
 
Some participants felt they had shared information but had not been listened to, while others felt pressured into talking about their impairment or condition following inappropriate questions from colleagues.
 
Scope is calling on employers to:
  • Create an environment where people feel they can be themselves at work.
  • Make clear to all staff that support and adjustments are available.
  • Challenge attitudes to disability through training, story sharing and campaigns.
  • Establish opportunities for disabled people to discuss their impairment or condition in a way that works for them.
Scope is also calling on the government to improve information and resources for employers, to build more effective ways of challenging poor practice and to develop a tangible offer of support to working disabled people.

Scope Chief Executive Mark Atkinson said:

“This report should be a wake-up call for businesses as it exposes the real challenges thousands of disabled workers face every day when trying to access the vital support they are entitled to.

“We need to drastically transform workplace culture so all employees are confident requesting support and can discuss their impairment or condition on their own terms.
 
“Employers who don’t make their workplace genuinely inclusive will lose hugely valuable members of their team because they are unable to stay or progress in that job.
 
“We can and must solve this problem, but employers and the Government must act now to ensure workplaces are truly inclusive and HR policies on equality aren’t just a document on a shelf.”
 
Emma Satyamurti, a partner in the employment law team at Law firm Leigh Day, who sponsored the research, said:
 
“This research clearly identifies the need for employers to understand the experiences of their disabled members of staff better and to create a culture where they feel safe to openly discuss their needs.
 
“All companies – large and small – should be taking steps to review and build on their practices and policies, so disabled people are able to confidently access the right support to carry out their work and thrive in their careers.”

Notes to the editor:

For more information please contact Laura Burnip in the Scope press office on 020 7619 7730 or email laura.burnip@scope.org.uk.

References:
  1. Source: Scope polling of 1004 disabled adults 25 to 31 July 2017.
  2. Source: Scope polling of 481 disabled adults who have requested an adjustment at work 25 to 31 July 2017.
  3. Source: Scope polling of 306 working disabled people in the UK 31 May to 8 June 2017. 
Scope is a charity that exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. For more information go to www.scope.org.uk

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