03/12/2020 - 00:30

Businesses see benefits in diversity

03/12/2020 - 00:30

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A new study has found 97 per cent of Australian employers believe there are major benefits in hiring people living with disability.

Businesses see benefits in diversity
Nearly three in five employers with experience hiring people with disability say they have gained organisational benefits. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

A new study has found 97 per cent of Australian employers believe there are major benefits in hiring people living with disability.

The findings were published in disability employment services provider APM’s latest Disability, Diversity and Inclusivity Index.

The DDI evaluates disability diversity and inclusion in the nation’s workplaces.

The latest index score was 56.2, down marginally from last year’s inaugural score of 57.6 indicating the impact of COVID-19 that led to a decline in culture and accessibility scores.

Positively, the survey highlighted a significant increase in career equity, up 19.5 percentage points to 67.2 off the back of the government’s JobKeeper payment scheme.

While the report found most businesses embraced the benefits of disability employment, in many cases businesses believed it was altruistic, benefiting the employee more so than the business.

APM Group chief executive Michael Anghie said it was encouraging to see so many employers getting behind disability employment, but too often it was seen as a “good thing to do” as opposed to a smart move that benefits the overall business through greater productivity and inclusion.

Mr Anghie said research had consistently shown that people with disability have lower rates of absenteeism taking less sick and personal leave and had a higher retention rates than other workers.

Nearly three in five (57.9 per cent) employers with experience hiring people with disability say they have gained organisational benefits; the most common being improvements in workplace culture and skill diversity.

Just 8.9 per cent cited no benefits at all.

In contrast, 34 per cent of employers with no experience hiring people with disability believe they would provide organisational benefits, but 21 per cent think it would be detrimental.

Mr Anghie said many remain on the fence, or uncertain of the benefits.

“Lack of ‘suitable roles’ is cited by 53 per cent of employers as the main factor stopping recruitment of people with disability, suggesting many employers continue to underrate their capabilities,” he said.

Mr Anghie said working with both large national employers and smaller local businesses was key to assisting people with disability into employment.

“The benefits of employment for individual job seekers are many and we work with businesses to help them grow an effective and diverse workforce,” he said.

“Whether accessing government-funded wage subsidies and workplace modifications for eligible job seekers, or training members of a workforce to better understand their own health and the health needs of people with disability, employers receive significant Australian government support.”

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