Enabling Change Through An Inclusive Workplace

Written by Astriid Volunteer Sabeeha Kassam

In 2020, Accenture published their Enabling Change; Getting To Equal Report. Here’s what you need to know about their findings and how their conclusions can impact inclusivity in the workplace.

Researchers interviewed 6,000 respondents with a disability across a variety of sectors. They also surveyed 1,748 executives (of which 675 executives with a disability) and carried out 50 video interviews. The responses pinpointed a disconnect between what leadership perceive about the reality for disabled talent, and talents’ lived experiences. The data also revealed a distinct lack of openness from both sides.

This led to Accenture developing eight factors they think can unlock workplace inclusivity: 

– Clear role models
– Employee resource groups
– Parental Leave
– Fair and transparent pay
– Training
– Flexible working options
– Freedom to innovate
– Mental wellbeing policies

Predicted outcomes from these factors include 1.5x higher engagement, 2.3x higher career aspirations, and 1.5x higher confidence levels.          

Disabled people represent 15% of the world’s population, but an estimated 80% of this cohort are not in employment. The lack of representation of disabled talent in the workplace is not thought to be due to disinterest but a lack of opportunity. They are therefore a large source of untapped talent.

In their survey, Accenture defined a disabled person as someone ‘‘reporting that they have difficulty performing day-to-day activities (e.g., walking, communicating, hearing, seeing even if wearing glasses) because of a mental, intellectual, sensory or physical health condition that has lasted, or is expected to last at least six months.’’ 80% of disabilities are acquired between 18-64 years of age, so there should be no ‘‘us’’ and ‘‘them’’ mentality. Crucially, it can happen to anyone at any time.

Even if companies are hiring talent with a disability, many are not encouraging fair progression or helping them reach their full potential.

Accenture inclusion and transparency findings:

  • Disabled people are 1.6 times (60%) more likely to feel excluded in the workplace.
  • 76% of talent and 80% of leaders with a disability are not fully open about it. This could be because of a perceived lack of support or trust, and not wanting to be labelled as ‘different’. With leaders unwilling to be transparent, talent struggle to find relatable role models.
  • Conversations around culture where talent with a disability can thrive can often be challenging.

The perception gap between disabled talent and leadership:

  • 67% of leaders think they have fostered a culture of inclusivity through technology setup and supportive cultures, whereas just 41% of talent agree.
  • 20% of talent with a disability feel their organisation is fully invested in supporting them.

A sub-par work culture is thought to be behind this fear, perception gap, and failure to thrive. This comes alongside:

  • Talent feeling their skills are not being utilised
  • Accommodations not being made
  • Leaders not speaking up about inclusion
  • Talent feeling they cannot raise concerns about workplace treatment

So, how can organisations foster a culture of equality?

  • Bold leadership: diversity at the top of the organisation that openly sets, shares, and measures equality goals with transparency.
  • Comprehensive action: this ensures attraction and retention of talent using policies and practices that are supportive, family-friendly, and free from bias.
  • Empowering environment: allowing talent to work flexibly, be creative and work in an environment of trust and respect.

Disability-inclusive companies are shown to have 2.9x faster growth in sales and 4.1x faster growth in profits than their competition. This shows an increased typical annual growth profile over three years.

In conclusion,disabled people are brimming with aspirations and talents. Living with a disability or long-term condition gives talent a unique perspective, the ability to strategise and problem solve, be highly empathetic, creative, thoughtful, sensitive, determined and plenty more. But the onus is also on future employers to provide strong and transparent leadership, flexibility, and inclusive cultures so that talent with a disability or long term-condition can develop confidence, and progress in their careers. Through feeling heard and fully involved, disabled talent is free to truly soar.

Written by Astriid Volunteer Sabeeha Kassam

Find out more and get in touch with Astriid via our contact page. You may also be interested in our own research report – Employment And Long-Term Illness: The Invisible Talent Pool!