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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

Old Brain or New Brain: Employing People with Disabilities

Disability Employment Australia will hold their 2018 conference in September. The venue is a short walk from our office at the Hilton hotel, Adelaide. The focus of the conference includes increasing the likelihood that disabled people can find and grow a worthwhile career.

More than 1 billion people globally have a disability. Their potential to contribute at work is constrained by the physical barriers in their way. The attitudes and assumptions of others and the hidden hurdles they face each day though are the real problems.

There are issues with recruitment processes. Online recruitment tools, for example, make it harder for partially sighted people or those with learning difficulties, dyslexia or autism to apply.

Disability is complex. Only 3% of disabled people have wheelchairs. Almost all disabled people will acquire their impairment during their working years. Most people with a disability get it after the age of 45. It would be a real challenge for any large business not to employ any people with disabilities, even if that was their stated policy.

‘The challenge is to move from making assumptions about a person with a disability, to focussing with them on how to liberate their potential.’ (Business Disability International).

Here’s a brilliant case study, where Microsoft employ people with autism to bring different approaches and build better products. Companies that do these things change people’s lives and gain a load of respect.

Microsoft is a giant organisation and has the resources to do these things. But senior managers and HR staff in companies of all sizes can take a few moments to think; if we have disabled employees are we speaking to them regularly about their experiences at work and acting? (If we don’t have disabled employees, why not?).

Steve Jobs said Apple would put ‘a computer in the hands of everyday people.’ This changed the lives of many disabled people (see video). Something similar needs to be done at work because things are moving too slowly.

Last week in the ‘Financial Times’ (10th May), Lord Blunkett, the ex-Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s UK Government, said that

‘the position of disabled people and employment is a disgrace’.

Blunkett, who has been blind since birth, went on to add that ‘it’s a tragedy for the individual and their family but it’s a complete waste of talent, ingenuity and commitment.’

There’s a long way to go when it comes to getting the most out of this talented workforce: their employment, careers and the support they receive at work.

EGM is committed to help people achieve their dreams and improve businesses by hiring exceptional talent.

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