Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes wrote an Op-ed piece in The Sydney Morning Herald today about how employer attitudes need to change about hiring people with disability. As a community, our perceptions around and understanding of disability has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go, and barriers to equity in employment remain a challenge.
Research shows that 79% of Australian employers are open to hiring people with disability and that most employers can recognise the value that people with disability might bring to the workforce, however, many employers are unsure about what is involved in the disability employment process at a practical level.
There is no evidence to support employing a person with disability will be more liability to a business; in fact, recent studies show just the opposite. Organisations often have preconceived ideas and concerns about hiring people with disabilities thinking they will be hard to integrate into the workforce or cost more to support, driven by a lack of knowledge, awareness and understanding of disability employment.
AFDO has recognised the need to provide support to businesses as part of our mission and provide a consulting service dedicated to increasing disability awareness and confidence.
The Diversity Field Officer Service is a confidential, one-on-one service designed to provide practical assistance and expertise to businesses to debunk the myths, and build their disability workplace confidence, to be more welcoming, inclusive and accessible to both staff and customers. Which, according to studies, will support a more positive culture, increase productivity and sales.
Our service engages with businesses to identify barriers and provide education and mentoring to enable them to become more inclusive and disability confident. We focus on 4 key areas to assist business to improve internal policy, practices and service delivery to include all of the Community, including those identifying with disability, short or long term.
There are four main areas of focus:
- Improving organisational disability awareness; including exploring unconscious bias, and breaking down the barriers for creating a more welcoming culture for staff and customers;
- Managing/retaining your existing staff (who may already have or acquire a disability or may have one in the future) via improving HR policy and practices, managing disclosure and how to provide reasonable adjustments at no cost to the business;
- Improving the accessibility of your premises and how you conduct business via a disability-friendly premises check and information on running inclusive events;
- Increasing your confidence to employ people with disability who are a good fit for what you do, which enable you to tap into the broadest talent pool when recruiting.
Our service provides a comprehensive recommendations document to support next actions, and access to our “Employer Toolkit” which includes information and resources on a range of areas to continue to assist an employer’s inclusive journey.
In addition, we offer a series of targeted workshops which are delivered in-house by a person with lived experience; covering disability awareness, communication, language & social media, accessibility and improving workforce practices.
If your business would like to learn how to become a disability confident employer, please visit our website or call our Business Development Manager, Jim Valavanis on 0456 003 767 to learn more about how we can support you.