Employees with disabilities finding more jobs, but taboo still prevalent

Employees with disabilities finding more jobs, but taboo still prevalent
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People with disabilities are increasingly finding jobs in the labour market, however, more still needs to be done to improve the inclusivity in workplaces, a survey by Acerta has found.

In the last five years, 10% more employees with so-called "work-limiting disabilities" have found a regular job (referring to workplaces that are not targeted to employ people who struggle to find a job in the regular market), according to an analysis by HR services company Acerta based on the data of more than 30,000 companies.

Companies in the services sector, the social sector and the hotel and catering industry employ the highest number of people with disabilities, with the latter having recorded the largest increase over the past five years (+33%).

Meanwhile, the interim and service vouchers sectors as well as companies in the chemicals, pharmaceuticals and energy sectors have the lowest percentage of employees with a disability.

Overall, small(er) companies generally employ more people with disabilities than larger companies, mostly because they are often more personal and can provide more personal support for people with disabilities.

Room for improvement

Although the rising number of employees with disabilities in regular jobs is a positive sign, more work needs to be done to create inclusive workplaces, according to Georgia Venetakis, an HR expert who has a visual impairment.

"Integrating people with disabilities in the workplace is sometimes still a taboo. There should be more openness about it," she argued.

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She stressed that a change in mentality is needed, and that companies should not only be open to employ different employees, but also be prepared to look for a way to optimise this employment.

"When companies hire employees with a disability, they must also provide the necessary transition to get them up and running. Also, the colleagues have to be involved. Everyone has to be accepted as part of the team."

Financial commitment

Belgium financially supports companies to ensure their workplaces are accessible to people with disabilities, however, in many cases, employees with a disability can be professionally active without requiring a large investment from the employer.

"There is still a lot of ignorance about employing people with a disability. Moreover, there is a lot of untapped talent in this group. Companies should certainly not overlook these people. On the contrary: they can be an asset in winning the war for talent," according to Venetakis.

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