Hire disabled people because you can’t afford not to

Disabled employment web

Tressa Burke, chief executive of Glasgow Disability Alliance, examines the business of equality

25th January 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Everybody has a bottom line. At GDA ours is equality. Everything we do is driven by our vision for a Glasgow and a Scotland where disabled people are in the driving seat of our own lives, empowered to work with others to transform society so we can participate equally and achieve our full human rights.

We don’t ask for much, do we? But we’re not daft. We know that disability equality is one of many aspirations guiding our partners, colleagues and allies in their work to help our city and our country thrive. And we know that while aspirations drive innovation and progress - day to day it’s money that makes the world go round.

That’s why at GDA we are so encouraged to hear increasing recognition of the bottom-line economic benefits of including disabled people – by removing barriers in services, workforces and all areas of life. 

Tressa Burke

Tressa Burke

On top of our contributions as citizens, neighbours and family members, Glasgow’s 150,000 plus disabled people are an untapped mine of valuable customers, workers and leaders. Yet only 28.9% of us are employed. There are thousands of disabled Glaswegians who want to contribute, participate, learn, volunteer and work.

By linking with GDA, all of our partners and allies are already tapping into the talents and expertise of our more than 4,000 disabled members.

And with the Scottish Government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap, these partnerships become a crucial asset to Scotland’s economy, as more and more organisations begin to understand and embrace the facts.

As the First Minister underlined last week at the third Annual Disabled People’s Summit on addressing the huge disability employment gap: “No country, whether it’s Scotland or any other country, can afford to neglect or underuse the talents of so many of its people."

Recent research by Harvard Business Review found that in the workplace, diverse teams solve problems faster. Disabled workers are more innovative; and diversity is very good for businesses’ bottom line.

GDA is increasingly heartened when our partner organisations tell us that for businesses to access this underserved customer base, employing more disabled people in designing and delivering products and services is an economic no-brainer!

Next week GDA members meet with the Scottish Government to help shape actions to cut the disability employment gap. And at Scotland’s Employability Congress in April, we look forward to linking even more businesses and employers with the expertise of disabled jobseekers - who when it comes to daily problem-solving, determination and resilience are vastly over-qualified.

To paraphrase Christina Ryan from the Disability Leadership Institute:  Don’t hire disabled people because it’s the right thing to do. Hire them because you value what they contribute – and hire them because they will deliver your business needs.