The Resolution Foundation research shows there’s been a 2.3 million rise of disabled people in employment. This means around 1 in 7 workers are disabled.

Resolution Foundation Disability Research

Being disability inclusive can benefit everyone in your business, not just disabled people. Often, changes you make to support disabled colleagues also help non-disabled colleagues too.

But where should businesses start? Follow our 5 ways to create a more inclusive workplace.

1. Develop your knowledge

Inclusive workplaces are not just about hiring disabled people. Organisations need confident leaders who understand disability and accessibility. They need to be clear on the business case for inclusion. And they need to be ready to think differently. They also need to:

  • develop a long-term strategy
  • put the right support systems in place
  • create a space where disabled people can develop and progress in their careers

Start by learning about disability statistics and employment research. How much do you know about disabled people, their experiences and the barriers they face?

There are 14.6 million disabled people in the UK. That’s 1 in 5 people. Research also shows that negative attitudes are one of the biggest barriers disabled people face.

This has a direct impact on their experiences in the workplace. It can mean some people do not feel comfortable sharing an impairment or condition. Either with their employer or colleagues. So it’s important to:

  • take time to understand the different experiences of disabled people
  • not make assumptions as every disabled person’s experience is different
  • think of disability from an intersectional perspective. And how this might impact the life of a disabled person.

Creating an inclusive workplace starts with you. Reflect on what you learn and your organisation. Once you have a general understanding, start sharing your knowledge with your colleagues. Help to build a shared understanding of disability:

  • How does it apply to your business?
  • How does it apply to your workplace culture?
  • How does it apply in wider society?

Once you’ve done this, you can start to create a strategy for being more inclusive.

Disability facts and figures

Scope attitudes research

2. Choose a disability champion

Champions have an important role in supporting disability inclusion. You should have a senior leader champion to start with. Using their influence, they can make sure that disability inclusion remains a priority. And that people get the right training.

Your disability champion can be a volunteer or someone you’ve nominated. They will be accountable for disability inclusion in your leadership team.

Once you’ve done this, it’s important to:

  • agree what you want to achieve
  • decide what supporting resources are available to deliver your plans
  • share regular progress updates with your CEO and senior leadership team

When it comes to disability champions, representation is also important. As you develop your knowledge of disability, it’s important to understand your limitations. Your champion could be a disability ally or someone with lived experience. If your champion is an ally, make sure to get guidance from disabled employees.

3. Review your processes and measure your progress

After you have a champion, you need to look at how inclusive you are. Start by reviewing your processes, policies and systems. Ideally an independent organisation or consultant should do this review. They can help you understand what the problems are and how to fix them.

Once you’ve put the right processes in place, it’s important to measure how effective they are. The best way to do this is to speak to disabled employees. This helps you understand what’s worked well and what still needs improving.

You can do this through:

  • focus groups or open discussions
  • testing and feedback
  • intranet and engagement surveys
  • working with disabled colleague network

4. Listen to disabled employees and colleagues

Measuring your progress helps you to see your development. But you also need to find out what your disabled employee views are and what they need. This will help you better understand the lived experiences of disabled colleagues.

From a business perspective, it will help you to:

  • better understand accessibility barriers
  • improve your workplace culture, ways of working and systems
  • review your processes and policies further to make sure you are being inclusive

The feedback you get can help you to create an action to fix the issues raised.

Another way to get feedback is to set up a disabled colleague network. A big part of creating an inclusive workplace is building community. Disability networks can be safe spaces for staff to share their experiences. They’re also spaces where people can offer peer-to-peer support.

As a business, it’s also an opportunity for you to learn about the needs and concerns of disabled staff. They can share best practices with you which will help your business to become more inclusive.

5. Give your line managers the right tools

It’s important to make sure your leadership are disability confident. This starts with language and a good understanding of disability.

Raise awareness about disability and accessibility. Give line managers disability inclusion training to help develop their confidence. This might include guidance on language, accessible recruitment or access barriers.

Also make sure managers know what their responsibilities are. This might be:

  • how to arrange workplace adjustments. Some organisations call them reasonable adjustments.
  • who to go to for support with organising adjustments
  • policies they need to read and follow
  • conversations they should have with employees about support and ways of working
  • guidance on inclusive job adverts and interviews


Being inclusive is also about feeling comfortable talking about disability. A poll from Samsung UK shows that people are uncomfortable talking about disability.

Samsung UK Disability Poll

Using the right language is often about finding out what people’s preferences are. How do they refer to themselves? What terms do they feel comfortable with? Listen to disabled people about what they prefer. Also be sensitive towards how much a disabled person wants to share.

As an organisation, using the social model of disability as a basis can be helpful. It will give you a different perspective on disability and how to talk about it. It can also help give you a consistent approach to talking about disability.

Social Model of Disability (Scope)

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