Opening Doors to a Disability Inclusive Workforce

Post author image. Kate Carr
Kate Carr, Campaign Manager for Employment and Skills at Business in the Community (BITC), calls on employers to create more opportunities for jobseekers with disabilities.
Kate smiles towards the camera

July is Disability Pride month, an opportunity to end the stigmas and raise awareness of the discrimination that many disabled people face. Sadly, we know that despite it being unlawful for employers to discriminate against anyone in this group, many disabled jobseekers report unfair treatment in the recruitment process. Shockingly nearly one in five employers state they would be less likely to hire a disabled person1.

Disability discrimination is unlawful, and it must stop. Employers who discriminate are not only in breach of the Equality Act 2010, but they are also missing out on the many benefits that a disability-inclusive workforce brings:

  • There are 8.4 million disabled people of working age in the UK, yet only half of them are in work2. This represents a huge pool of untapped talent that businesses cannot afford to ignore given the skills shortages and increasing levels of economic inactivity in the UK.
  • Businesses with a diverse and inclusive workforce can tap into different perspectives which unlock innovation and drive market growth. Studies have shown that productivity rises when the number of workers with disabilities is increased3.
  • As almost 20% of people in the UK are disabled4, disabled employees will make your workforce more reflective of your customer base. Disabled customers and their families have a spending power worth an estimated £274 billion5.
  • Employers that prioritise a disability-inclusive workforce are four times more likely to outperform their competitors in shareholder returns and have, on average, 28% higher revenue, double the net income, and 30% higher profit margins6.

Recruitment practices should change to make jobs inclusive and accessible to diverse talent

BITC’s inclusive recruitment campaign, Opening Doors, calls on employers to make changes to the way that they recruit so that their jobs are more inclusive and accessible to diverse and disadvantaged talent. Outdated recruitment practices and attitudes mean that on average disabled people must apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled jobseekers before they find work7. The Opening Doors campaign identifies a number of specific actions that would help to remove barriers to work faced by diverse talent, including disabled people, which are grouped under five core principles:

  1. Create partnerships with organisations that connect people from disadvantaged groups to your jobs.
  2. Show candidates that you are committed to inclusion.
  3. Make sure job descriptions and adverts are comprehensive and use inclusive language.
  4. Focus on the essential skills and capabilities that are needed to do the job.
  5. Prioritise accessibility and eliminate bias.

We have the ambition to make two million jobs more inclusive by 2025 and are delighted that so many employers have already committed to the campaign, including its sponsors AXA UK and City & Guilds.

BITC members can learn more about actions to support disabled jobseekers by downloading our member-only Disability Inclusion in the Workplace and Supporting Neurodiversity at Work factsheets.

Open your doors to untapped talent by joining our inclusive recruitment campaign. Find out what other employers are already doing to make their recruitment processes more inclusive by registering for our upcoming BITC member-only webinar on Principle 4: Focusing on essential skills.

access a wide range of resources to help your business make jobs more inclusive


  1. Leonard Cheshire (2021) Still Locked Out: Breaking down the barriers to disability inclusive employment.
  2. House of Commons Library (2021), Disabled people in employment.
  3. MSUTODAY (2020), How disability diversity in the workplace can improve productivity, Michigan State University, 18 November.
  4. Awaiting reference.
  5. Accenture (2018), Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.
  6. ibid.
  7. May Bulman (2017), Disabled people have to apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people before finding one, The Independent, 28 September.