According to Purple’s recent nationwide survey of 1,000 businesses, a fifth of hiring managers (22 per cent) admitted they were worried about interviewing someone with a disability in case they do or say the wrong thing, while shockingly almost half of UK businesses (45 per cent) said they were apprehensive about hiring someone with a disability because of fears they wouldn’t be able to do the job.

The risks usually associated with moving jobs are multiplied when applied to disabled workers, who are facing these prejudices in interviews as well as physical barriers in the workplace. Despite societal progress, disabled people are still underrepresented in the workplace and are more likely to be on lower incomes than their peers. 

Fears from interviewers also included using the incorrect terminology (32 per cent) and not knowing whether they should help with things such as opening doors or pulling out chairs (38 per cent). One in five employers (21 per cent) also admitted that falling foul of discrimination law was a real concern. 

Purple Chief Executive and disability equality champion Mike Adams OBE said: “We know changing jobs with new responsibilities and colleagues is a scary prospect for anyone but this is even more complicated for disabled workers who might find themselves facing attitudinal barriers with prospective employers. There is still much more work to be done to change opinion, and we need to understand and respond systematically to disabled workers' needs”. 

Purple’s aim is to create a world where disability no longer presents barriers for individuals or business. The organisation assists people and businesses across the UK, offering consultancy and recruitment services to support businesses to drive inclusive employment strategies, while providing disabled people with greater levels of employment support.  Purple has launched a specialist disability employment agency, matching disabled jobseekers with vacancies businesses need filling. Its aim is to support more than 20,000 disabled people to find permanent jobs over the next decade, providing them with better jobs and higher pay, guidance, advice and grant funded help schemes, without the obstacles they still face. 

Purple’s recruitment services manager Wayne Smithies comments: “Businesses have a real opportunity in reassessing their attitudes towards disability, not only to allow them to access the so called ‘Purple Pound’, which is worth £212bn a year, but also in terms of attracting and retaining skilled, talented professionals who just happen to have a disability.”

  • Photo credit: Mike Adams opening the LSE and launching Purple last July
  • For more on disabilities in the workplace, take a look at our recent webinar Independent Living in the Workplace