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Study finds nearly 25% of workers may have a disability or health condition

8 June 2023

Pic: Rudzhan Nagiev/Getty Images

By Kristen Parisi

Boston Consulting Group finds employers are grossly underestimating how many disabled employees they have.

If you look around your office (or virtual workspace), do you know which of your colleagues has a disability? Many disabilities and health conditions are invisible, and a new report finds that employers are vastly underestimating how many disabled employees they have.

A 2022 report from Disability: IN, an organization that aims to increase disability representation in workplaces, found that approximately 4% of workers self-identify as disabled. However, these numbers may be significantly underestimated, according to a May survey from Boston Consulting Group. The report polled 28,000 people from 14 countries and found that approximately 25% of workers globally say they have a disability or health condition. Without an accurate understanding of their workforce, employers may not invest in disability programs. Still, employees may be reluctant to disclose their disability status because they fear potential discrimination.

“Oftentimes, those of us with a disability may not view our disability as a strength [but] a weakness or vulnerability,” Jeff Wissel, Disability: IN’s chief accessibility officer, told HR Brew. “It’s a very personal choice of whether to disclose or not. Ideally, when a candidate does self-disclose, at the very beginning of the process, it’s designed to set everyone up for success.”

Beyond the statistics, BCG’s findings indicate that disabled workers have lower inclusion scores than their nondisabled peers. France, Germany, and China saw the lowest inclusion scores. Disabled workers were also six points less likely to report feeling positive about their workplace, and experience discrimination more frequently than their peers.

BCG recommends that employers create a more inclusive culture by providing employees with mentorship, reasonable accommodations, and employee-centered policies and programs. Finally, some disability advocates say that providing flexible work policies, accessible technology options, and employee resource groups will foster a disability-inclusive workplace.

Source: HR Brew


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