Businesses’ standards are rising, slowly


Companies and public sector bodies are improving their performance on disability, although progress in some key areas is still limited, according to an assessment by the leading employers’ organisation on disability.

Every two years, scores of private and public sector organisations take part in the Disability Standard “benchmarking” process organised by the Employers’ Forum on Disability (EFD).

The process is designed to test accurately how well they are performing on how disability affects their business, and works on a self-assessment basis, with supporting evidence validated by experts.

This year, 21 of the 106 organisations that took part – seven private and 14 public sector – scored at least 80 per cent in the test, compared with 13 out of 116 organisations in 2007.

The average score was 63 per cent, compared with 57 per cent in 2007.

BT and the British Library shared the award for this year’s best performance.

EFD said the results from the 2009 Disability Standard “clearly show that organisations are making progress towards achieving disability equality in specific areas”, although progress in other areas was “limited”.

The results show that three-fifths of boards or senior management teams regularly review progress on disability equality, 18 per cent higher than in 2007.

But only 28 per cent of organisations – the same as in 2007 – have made an “effective economic and ethical case” for disability equality, although a further 58 per cent are working on this.

Nine in ten organisations offer adjustments to job candidates at every stage of the selection process, although only 39 per cent require everyone involved with recruitment and selection to attend disability equality training – just five per cent more than in 2007.

Two thirds of employers track how successful they are in retaining disabled employees, but only about half monitor the number of disabled people who apply for jobs and how they progress through the recruitment process.

And only 49 per cent ensure that training and development is accessible for disabled staff.

Only 44 per cent of organisations are confident that their websites are accessible, while the same percentage ensure their products and services are accessible.

Susan Scott-Parker, EFD’s chief executive, said: “The good news from the Disability Standard 2009 is that, overall, organisations are improving.” 

But she added: “In such challenging economic times, all organisations should ensure they are reaching out to disabled and older customers and harnessing the talents of disabled employees.

“Given one in three people are disabled or close to someone who is, organisations that meet the needs of disabled customers win more business.“

29 October 2009