Thousands of companies have signed up to a nationwide scheme in a bid to find employment for people with disabilities.
Over 20,000 businesses including Coco-Cola, Hilton and Sainsbury’s have joined the Disability Confident initiative launched by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, said: “All disabled people deserve equal opportunities to thrive at work.
“Through our Plan for Jobs and schemes like Disability Confident we are working towards making this a reality, with employers like Hilton showing what is possible.
“The latest disability employment figures show we are making progress, with an additional 300,000 in work over the past year, but we remain focused on increasing this further, seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.
“I’m calling on more businesses to become Disability Confident, to create inclusive and accessible jobs and reap the benefits it brings.
Network Rail non-executive director Stephen Duckworth is one of the many people who has benefited from the government’s scheme after he was left paralysed in a life-changing accident in 1981.
Duckworth told the Daily Express: “The Disability Confident scheme has had two important impacts: increase the confidence of employers in employing disabled people; and increase the confidence of disabled people to raise their aspirations to achieve leadership roles.
“Staff networks, introduced in many organisations following the Disability Confident scheme, have given disabled people the courage to increase their aspirations, the confidence to move forward with their careers, and compete on a more level playing field for leadership positions with their non-disabled colleagues.
“I would encourage all employers - small, medium and large - to profit from the potential of disabled employees.”
Philip Adcock, Ford’s director of European information technology said: “Ford is proud to be part of Disability Confident and value the benefits this scheme brings to our organisation.
“We know that many people still face unfair stigma around disability, and we believe our involvement in Disability Confident provides a clear signal that we want current and future employees with disabilities to feel they belong in our organisation.
“We would encourage all employers no matter their size or scope to join with us in becoming a Disability Confident member, so that they can also begin sharing in the benefits this scheme brings to creating more inclusive workplaces and a more equitable country.”
Tim Fallowfield, company secretary and corporate services director at Sainsbury’s, said: “We want to be a truly inclusive retailer, and help disabled colleagues realise their full potential.
“Disability Confident is enhancing our ways of interacting, assisting and improving accessibility and I would encourage other businesses to have no hesitation in signing up.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the hospitality industry organisation UK Hospitality, said: “We are committed to taking action to make the hospitality sector more accessible for disabled customers and for it to be a lucrative career option for everyone.
“The Disability Confident scheme is one of the ways in which businesses can learn to become more inclusive and attuned to the needs of disabled people and I would encourage all organisations to consider signing up.”
“The Disability Confident scheme helps employers create more inclusive and diverse workforces by championing inclusive recruitment practices.
“The scheme helps them think differently about disability, and improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers.”
Kay Harriman, a senior human resources director at Hilton Hotel, said: “We are committed to helping all our team members thrive, the Disability Confident scheme is just one of the ways we make this happen.”
Nick Forkin, a senior business partner at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, said: “Signing up to the Disability Confident scheme is simple and the benefits are enormous. You won’t look back.”
Around 11 million employees are now involved in the Disability Confident scheme which was launched five years ago.
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