People living with a disability are chronically underemployed. Compared to 80% of working-age people without a disability, only 48% of working-age people with a disability are employed and 1 in 10 are underemployed. People living with a disability are twice as likely to be unemployed than people without a disability. This represents a huge missed opportunity for Australian businesses.
If you haven’t tended to employ people living with a disability in the past, it’s time to give it some more thought. The truth is, hiring people with a disability can have significant benefits to your business, your customers, your employees and even the wider Australian economy.
Tapping into a broader talent pool
What you may not realise is how large the pool of Australians living with a disability actually is. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 6 Australians have a disability. That represents 18% of the population or approximately 4.4 million people.
While 59% of working-age people living with a disability are permanently unable to work, that leaves a large pool of untapped talent.
One of the largest concerns employers have about hiring people with a disability is around the possible disruptions to the workplace. In fact, research has found the opposite to be true.
Data suggests that 88% of working-age people with a disability can work without additional support from their employer. Furthermore, 82% of people with a disability who are employed do not need to take time off work due to their disability.
In one governmental review, the research found that for people with a disability, turnover and workers’ compensation costs are lower, tenure is longer and the actual cost of workplace accommodations is quite low. The same review found that the economic benefits of employing people with a disability outweighed the costs to do so.
At MTC Australia, we are a Disability Employment Services (DES) provider, which means help people living with a disability find, prepare for and sustain employment.
Accessing fresh perspectives
Every employee in your business brings a different perspective to the table. If you’ve already embraced inclusive employment in your workplace, you’ll likely already know the benefits of broad and inclusive perspectives within an organisation. But what people with a disability bring is a unique perspective from the lived experience of disability.
Given the large number of Australians living with a disability, there is a good chance that some of your customers are also part of that number. The lived experience of your employees with a disability can go a very long way to forming stronger connections with your customers. It can perhaps even help to identify barriers or challenges your customers are facing in their interactions with your business.
Fresh perspectives can also be good for the simple things too. It could be something as small as the placement of the kettle in the staff kitchen, or how your filing system is organised. Different experiences enable you to see things differently and possibly make valuable enhancements to your business’ culture and the way you do things.
Making a significant economic contribution
In 2011, Deloitte Access Economics was commissioned by the Australian Network on Disability to review the economic benefits of increasing employment for people with disability. The results of this research found that “closing the gap between labour market participation rates and unemployment rates for people with and without disabilities by one-third would result in a cumulative $43 billion increase in Australia’s GDP over the next decade in real dollar terms.”
The results from modelling; however, were driven by an increased number of productive resources for Australian businesses to tap into, thus producing greater output into the economy through higher levels of employment. While the closing of the gap hasn’t been realised, these same principles apply today.
By employing people living with a disability, businesses can make a significant positive contribution to the economy.
Changing lives and creating new possibilities
Living with a disability doesn’t mean that a person is unskilled or not as good at their job as their peers who don’t have a disability. Far from it.
Many people who are living with disabilities want to have their skills recognised and to make a meaningful contribution to their workforce. In the 15-24 age group, 27% of employed people with a disability would like to work more hours. For those people with a disability who are unemployed, 93% experience difficulties in finding employment. There is no denying that securing employment can be more challenging for this population.
By employing people living with a disability, you are not only benefiting your business, you are also making a huge difference to people who face greater hurdles in their path to finding a job. This can be life changing. Hiring a person with a disability can lift them out of ongoing unemployment, under employment and uncertainty, to being able to contribute to the workforce and build new possibilities for their future.
We have the great privilege of witnessing the benefits of hiring people living with a disability each and every day. Through Disability Employment Services, we actively work with people living with disabilities to help them find and keep jobs that are right for them. As an employer, you can access DES to find job-ready candidates who will benefit your organisation in so many ways.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of hiring people living with a disability or how you can embrace more inclusive recruitment, please fill out the form below.