Are we Seeing a Change in the Way Businesses are Approaching Disability?
Employable Me is a documentary series produced by the BBC. The program looks at how some people with disabilities find it extremely difficult to find work. It also highlights, that if given the same opportunities as the more able, they can be just as effective in the workplace. The topic is one that is long-standing for debate and begs the question; are we seeing a change in the way businesses are approaching disability?
There is a raft of government legislation that clearly outlines the rules when it comes to how people with disabilities are to be treated both as job seekers and as employees. It is also very common to see the “we are an equal opportunities employer…” Despite this, figures released on Parliament, a House of Commons website, suggest that in 2016 only 48.3% of people with disabilities were in employment.
Little wonder then that a television series like Employable Me is stirring such empathy and compassion: “So desperate was Andy to prove his worth, having felt suicidal in the past, he had applied in vain for more than 1,000 roles, from board level to cleaner.” Gabriel Tate – The Telegraph
Wider Social Change
Looking at the lives of disabled people in a wider context offers some rather more encouraging insights. For example, companies such as Mobility Solutions now offer the most advanced range of mobility scooters and products like this have gone a long way in helping the disabled attain the freedom and independence they are entitled to.
Programs including Employable Me and The Undateables are helping to raise awareness of disabilities among the public at large and deal with some of the stigmas that are attached to having disabilities.
Disabilities and Employment
While the posturing from employers is sending all the right messages, there is no firm evidence to suggest that the wider changes and progress we are seeing is really filtering through. Perhaps the approach society takes when it comes to how employers view the disabled needs to be reviewed and a more interventionist approach taken.
That is to say, employers who were in the spotlight of the Employable Me film crew seemed much more open to the idea of giving disabled people a chance, but as Gabriel Tate commented in closing the article in The Telegraph:
“Whether those same employers would have made the job offers without the presence of television cameras is moot, but this was a heart-warming, encouraging demonstration of how destigmatisation benefits us all.”