The public sector’s approach to approaching disability in the workplace is unique to other forms of employment. Often, these organisations have vast numbers of employees but can try to create a more open environment without it being perceived as solely a publicity stunt.

If your organisation is a part of the public sector, you will already have extensive systems in place to identify and hire disabled people.

However, you are not immune to the changes in the economy, which is at risk of needing to replace 35% of current occupations in the next 15 years. Fostering a more open and accessible workplace will allow you to attract the best of the working-age disabled population, which makes up around 20% of the total.

Most of the time, the issue for the public sectors doesn’t come from not recruiting enough but from current employees feeling unable to disclose their disabilities.

There are several ways to increase the number of current employees opening up about their disabilities, and it often starts with changes and training for management.

Here are some tips about encouraging staff to disclose their disabilities:

  • Start an in-house campaign, advertising the positive impacts of opening up about a disability
  • Show how having a disability hasn’t impacted certain members of staff from reaching high positions within the organisation
  • Demonstrate how the company will not use the disclosing of one’s disability for any purpose other than for improved support. This includes use for data or advertising purposes.
  • Improve understanding of the correct terminology to use when discussing disabilities
  • Have all staff go through classes to inform about the different disabilities. You can refer members of staff to our disability advice hub for more information and guidance.
  • Have open conversations about what constitutes a disability. Some people meet the Equality Act 2010 criteria but do not consider themselves disabled.

Studies show that even where there is a desire to open up about disabilities, some organisations haven’t fostered a culture which allows people to feel comfortable about disclosing their disabilities. One inquiry found that half of its respondents believe the culture and attitudes at their organisation are the key reason they haven’t disclosed their disability.

The best way to change this culture is to have management undertake disability awareness training. Such courses are available across the UK for employers, such as the Disability Confident Training rolled out by Disability Rights UK.

If you are unsure about how to improve your workplace, or whether or not there are any problems at all, carrying out a survey is a good solution. Not only does it identify the potential issues and solutions in your company, but it reassures your staff that you care about their opinions.

Such case studies should remain transparent to help foster a healthy company culture, and build trust been staff and management.

Here are some tips for accessing and implementing these changes:

  • Use your contacts and links with other private and public sector organisations to discuss how they have approached disability awareness. Not only will this provide useful ideas for changes, but also identify the quickest and most effective ways of implementing them.
  • Utilise the vast number of organisations set up to support disabled people and employers who have disabled members of staff. To find such assistance in your area, head to our dedicated page on finding help in your locality.
  • Consider creating target deadlines for these changes’ implementation. This will allow staff to recognise that you are sticking to your commitments. However, be wary of overselling your capabilities, or else that could negatively impact the perception of the organisations’ culture towards disability.

For more information, read our page on frequently asked questions.