Disability History Month –  ELBA examines the barriers to entry and progression in the workplace

Disability History Month –  ELBA examines the barriers to entry and progression in the workplace

November is Disability History Month – a time to reflect on the remarkable achievements of people with disabilities and the barriers that they face. At ELBA we have been looking particularly at the barriers to full participation in the workplace – both in terms of entry and progression.

We were at an event convened by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to look at how we can accelerate the pace of change for people with disabilities. We heard some very interesting input from people with lived experience and also formal research which suggests that insufficient emphasis is placed on the quality of the experience of people with disabilities who are in the workplace, compared to dealing with point of entry issues, important as those are. Most disabilities are acquired in the course of a lifetime and employers are not always well informed about how to support the changing needs of their employee, nor the help that is available from Access to Employment and other agencies and organisations. Fellow colleagues don’t always know how to react, and this can lead to awkwardness at best, and a culture of hostility at worst. Engaging all parties in a dialogue – employer, employee and co-workers – is a good place to start. Adjustments to the workplace – of all types, physical, timing, process – can be the difference between thriving, surviving or spinning out – and they often take too long to be implemented. Transparency works and engaging all employees in an open discussion is a good approach, as is holding senior managers accountable. ELBA will be working with employer partners to spread good practice and also having a think about our own internal knowledge and readiness to support colleagues who experience a change in circumstances brought about by disability.

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