Understanding the challenges of disabled jobseekers
Disabled people are almost twice as likely to be unemployed. Disabled jobseekers often face barriers at every stage of employment.
But many businesses have not thought about how inclusive their workplaces are. Some employers can have biases or negative attitudes about hiring disabled people. Many believe it’s too difficult, risky, or expensive.
These attitudes impact disabled jobseekers’ ability to apply and get into work every day. They can create inaccessible workplaces and this needs to change. All organisations need to:
- understand the challenges of disabled jobseekers
- change attitudes around disability
- remove access barriers
The challenges of disabled jobseekers
There are many challenges disabled people experience around employment. For example:
- disabled applicants make 60% more job applications than non-disabled people
- about half of disabled applicants get an interview. This is compared to two thirds of non-disabled applicants
- the disability employment gap is 29%
- 32% think that disabled people are not as productive as non-disabled people
- 37% believe employers will not hire them because of their impairment
Disabled people apply for 60 per cent more jobs: Scope commissioned 2017 survey. Opinium conducted 2,000 online interviews with UK disabled adults. And 2,002 online interviews with UK non-disabled adults.
There are a range of employment barriers that make it harder to apply for a job or attend an interview:
- jobs posted on platforms that are not compatible with assistive technology
- lack of accessible entrances at interview venues, like no ramps
- inaccessible interview tests and formats
- negative attitudes about the abilities, skills, and capabilities of disabled people
How these challenges impact disabled job seekers
48% of disabled people worry about talking to their employer about their impairment. And much of this comes from social attitudes.
Meet Lauren, who experienced negative attitudes while looking for work:
“After graduating from university, I found myself applying for over 250 jobs. I was unemployed for eight months and I remember feeling that I was never going to get a job. I felt pretty useless.
But I realised that I was disabled more by society’s view of disability than my actual impairment. And I was determined to change this.
People often do not look beyond a person’s impairment. They focus on their limitations rather than their unique advantages. And the possible opportunities employing a disabled person offers.
In my case, employers could not see beyond my visual impairment. I am resourceful, hard working and want to work and contribute. Attitudes need to change. All I want is the opportunity and the chance to show my talent.”
For disabled people, being rejected by many businesses is tiring and frustrating.
Getting rejected again and again, you feel like it’s because of your impairment and that made me want to give up. I couldn’t explain Cerebral Palsy confidently and it made me feel like it was more of a weakness than a strength.
I had all the skills, but I felt like I was being judged. It seemed like employers were thinking there will be other people who aren’t disabled who can do the job better.”
Azar, disability advocate
The challenges that disabled people face when looking for a job have a direct impact on their lives. They’re often disabled by society rather than their impairment.
How employers can help
The best employers know that to grow they need to recruit and keep the best people. They also understand the need to cultivate diverse ideas and viewpoints. When you make accessibility a priority, you will build your reputation and attract the best talent.
Employers can make a big difference by making even small changes. Start with:
- raising awareness about disability
- learning about accessibility
- understanding disabled experiences
- making a plan for disability inclusion