Learning Disability Week: Embracing Diversity in the Workplace
This year’s Learning Disability Week has a focus on the benefits of employing people with a learning disability in an effort to help tackle the low levels of employment people with disabilities currently face. Enable Wolverhampton is an organisation that supports people with disabilities into paid employment. The support provided is unique to the person and is based on their ambitions, skills and needs.
Vicki Williams, Senior Business Development Officer at Enable Wolverhampton, is a firm believer that nobody with a disability of any kind should allow it to hold them back, especially in the field of work which has the potential to enrich life in a manifold of different ways.
Here, Vicki speaks about how valuable employment is to the people she works with and the successes that they bring to employers:
“There are many benefits that employers can gain from hiring someone with a disability. According to a UN report published in 2007, job retention is, on average, higher amongst staff with disabilities. This is something that we often see at Enable – finding employment can be more challenging, particularly for those with a learning disability, the result of gaining work is not something that our clients don’t take for granted. This also has an impact on the individuals overall work ethic. Many people that we work with have been unemployed for long periods of time through no fault of their own but because employers may assume that they would have to make significant work place adjustments which is simply not the case. This means that once employment is gained, we see that many of our clients take very few sick days, have brilliant timekeeping and are eager to take on more hours.
It is important not just to recognise the benefits that employers can gain from hiring someone with a disability but also to understand the positive impact to the employee. It is clear that there are financial benefits that come from employment, but it can also have a positive social impact, as well as improving our health and wellbeing. The mental stimulation that employment offers not only engages our brains, but also provides us with the chance to establish a plan for growth in our skill sets and in our personal aims in life. Work represents a recognition of a person’s abilities, qualifications and achievements. Through the knowledge that we are making a contribution to society, self-confidence and social inclusion are both heightened. The value of this becomes more significant for people with disabilities who may often suffer with low self-esteem and find themselves isolated from many aspects of society. For someone who may have felt overlooked in other aspects of their life due to having a disability this recognition and self-assurance can be significant to their quality of life.
One of our recent clients summed up their reasons for seeking paid employment by saying: “Having a job will get me out of the house and meeting new people. I will also have my own money, which will be good. It’s important for me to work so I can develop myself and learn new skills. Working makes you feel better because you know you are doing something worthwhile with your time.”
Job satisfaction is crucial to performance, staff retention and to work morale. We ensure that all of our clients go into work that will bring them fulfilment to their lives. When hiring someone with a disability there is a significant chance that they will find satisfaction just from being given the chance to work.
Many businesses will be aware of the fact that their client base may include people with disabilities. By hiring someone with a disability, companies will be able to not only represent their client base but also grow their understanding of those customers.
Sadly, unemployment amongst people with disabilities falls at around the 70% mark. It is important that we strive to make improvements and recognise the benefits that can be gained from employing someone with a disability, for both the employee and the employer. We ensure that all of our clients apply for jobs that they are capable of carrying out, it is down to employers to embrace diversity and dive straight into this talent pool that is readily available to them.”