Written by Astriid volunteer Fiona Boyle
A survey of over 3000 disabled people by the inclusive jobs board Evenbreak has looked at employment and disability, including perceptions towards employers and when a disabled person should disclose their disability. This research complements Astriid’s Invisible Talent Pool report, which focuses specifically on the experiences of people with long-term illnesses.
Two questions in Evenbreak’s survey highlight attitudes toward disability disclosure. Disability disclosure is when someone chooses to inform an employer of their disability, which can be done either during recruitment or after a job is secured. Disclosing a disability should be a positive experience, as it means the employee can work with their employer to put reasonable adjustments in place to allow them to do their job to the best of their ability. However, when asked about their biggest barriers to work, 23% of respondents felt that mentioning their disability would put them at a disadvantage. Similarly, 22% choose not to disclose their disability during recruitment.
This mirrors findings in Astriid’s report, with many respondents saying they were concerned about disclosing their long-term illness due to fear of discrimination and describing personal experiences of negative outcomes from disclosure. However, some said that the severity of their illness meant that they had no choice but to disclose, as they would be unable to work without reasonable adjustments.
Of those respondents to Evenbreak’s survey who do disclose during recruitment, 23% do so on application and 12% do so at the interview stage. This differs from Astriid’s findings on chronically ill people, with the majority preferring to disclose at the interview stage. Some said this was because their long-term illness can be easily misunderstood so they prefer to explain it face-to-face, while others said they prefer to wait and decide whether to disclose based on the atmosphere of the interview.
When asked for their views on employers, 30% of respondents to the Evenbreak survey said that employers only hire disabled people if they need to fill a quota. The respondents to Astriid’s research reported similar beliefs, such as feeling that they were just there as ‘a tick box exercise’. When Astriid asked people with long-term illnesses what encouraged them to apply for a job, a commonly cited factor was a commitment to disability awareness from the employer. These findings suggest that employers who can demonstrate a genuine commitment to inclusive recruitment and disability awareness will be able to attract more talent than their competitors.
Employment and disability issues have never been so topical, and now is the time to level up your inclusion practice. If you are an employer and are keen to recruit and retain people with long-term conditions, Astriid Consulting offers bespoke workshops, training and accreditation led by experts by experience. You can also sign up for our newsletter to receive free updates and resources!