Equality legislation has been in existence for years, but it was finally brought together under a single umbrella act in the Equality Act 2010. This statute makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against those with a disability, in terms of their hiring practices, workplace, or pay.
However, equality is not only supported by the law. A Government Equalities Office survey of more than 1,800 organisations showed that 90 per cent of employers support equality in the workplace. The truth is, on top of showing faith in staff (and, on a more practical level, being enforced by law), it makes good business sense, too. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
On the most fundamental level, discrimination goes against our society’s morals. As a business owner, many feel that they’re perfectly placed to help combat prejudice, and to provide the less able-bodied among us with opportunities to improve their lives. Many disabled people are capable of performing work on a par with their able-bodied counterparts, and aside from anything else, it can be hugely rewarding to be one of the people who gives them a chance.
On a less altruistic level, attempting to enforce equality is good for your reputation, a factor listed by 76 per cent of businesses as a driver for their attitude towards equality. If you can show that you want to offer everyone, irrespective of colour, gender, age, or ability, a chance to participate in your business, this sends a positive message to your clients and customers.
Conversely, having a reputation for being ableist is incredibly damaging for a business: with word of mouth, social media and journalistic reporting ready to catch any sign of a breach of the Equality Act, denying an applicant a job or an employee an opportunity as a result of their disability could seriously damage your reputation, and – since businesses who do not comply with the Act are liable to be sued – even your profits could be harmed.
Equality is not only beneficial to those who suffer from a disability; it could also be of benefit to you as an employer. The fact that someone suffers from a handicap does not automatically makes them less well suited to a position in your company than their able-bodied peers.
Many people with disabilities have an array of talents, whether their strengths lie in writing, programming, or any other direction. It would make very little sense (even if it were lawful) to discount an incredibly gifted writer from being employed as a journalist at your newspaper company simply because disabled access in your office was limited. Thus, equality means that you have the opportunity to employ a wide array of skilled applicants, irrespective of any physical or mental limitations they might have.
Whether it’s including braille for a presentation, or ensuring that you choose a conference venue with disabled access, taking the time to embrace equality is advantageous to everyone; make sure that you embrace it today.