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Occupational therapists can help end workplace disability discrimination

Monday 7th August 2017
More than half of disabled people have experienced discrimination in the workplace - something occupational therapists could help to end. Image: Wavebreakmedia via iStock
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Occupational therapists can play a key role in removing the barriers that disabled people face in the UK's workplaces, after the results of a new survey revealed more than half of job applicants with a disability have tried to hide this fact from their prospective employer.

This is according to research carried out by employment agency Badenoch and Clark, which found that 51 per cent have taken steps to hide their disability, while 60 per cent of people with disabilities have experienced bias or discrimination in the workplace.

Badenoch and Clark's 'Inspiring Inclusion in the Workplace' report also found that 45 per cent of people with a physical disability and 65 per cent of those with a mental disability did not feel that their workplace offered an inclusive environment.

As a result, 48 per cent have felt unable to stay at a particular company or to apply for a promotion, which suggests that workplace bias and unnecessary barriers could be halting career progression opportunities for people living with disabilities.

Nicola Linkleter, president of professional staffing at Badenoch and Clark, commented: "We'd like to see more employers taking the initiative to remove barriers to disability in the workplace, developing attraction and retention strategies that capture an underrepresented talent pool and working with universities and recruitment consultancies to advise disabled students on how to interview confidently."

Occupational therapists could play an important role in working with employers to remove the barriers that are stopping physically disabled people and those with mental health issues from getting on in the workplace.

For example, these healthcare professionals can advise on making working environments more accessible and work with leadership teams to encourage them to think differently and focus on everything that disabled workers can do, rather than worrying about what they can't.

As Ms Linkleter highlighted, 16 per cent of UK adults have a disability, 15 per cent of whom have a degree, meaning employers could be missing out on some valuable talent if their unnecessary biases remain in place.

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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