The Business Case for Diversity Management

The Business Case for Diversity Management

First, some key facts about employment and people with disabilities

• 65% of people with a learning disability would like a job (1)
• 46% of people with disabilities are in employment (2)
• Only 5.8% of adults with learning disabilities known to Social Services are in any kind of paid employment (3)
• 6.7% of people with a serious mental health need are in paid employment (3)
• As many as 2.5 million disabled men and women are without work in Britain (4)
• Research conducted by the Department of work and Pensions concluded that it would not be possible to support oneself on earnings alone if a person is working less than 16 hours per week (4)
• Nearly one in five people of working age (7 million, or 18.6%) in Great Britain has a disability (5)

There is a clear case for recruiting disabled employees:

• It can save your company time and money.
• It provides motivated employees who will be committed to your company.
• It improves morale and team working.
• It can enhance your company's reputation, both internally and with customers.
• It can lead to innovation in products and services
• It demonstrates corporate social responsibility

Reduced recruitment costs

The average cost of recruitment across the UK is estimated to be £5-7k per vacancy. This figure includes advertising the vacancy, preparing and processing applications, screening candidates, interviewing candidates and going through the induction and training process. These figures can be substantially increased if at the first attempt to recruit, the wrong candidate is selected for the job.

Supported employment agencies provide a professional recruitment service with no fees attached.

Improved retention rates

A supported employment agency analyses the organisation’s recruitment needs, providing a selection service designed to accurately match the right person to a job improving staff retention rates.

A wider pool of labour

It is clear that a large number of people with disabilities are unemployed but are motivated to work. Many employers and organisations could be missing out on a wider opportunity to recruit from an additional source of labour with previously undiscovered skills and abilities.


Organisations are increasingly concerned about their reputation within the communities they share and serve. A corporate vision and supporting statements present an image to a public that is ever more demanding of corporate ethics.

Organisations that are recognised for implementing fair and equal social policies rather than just ‘saying the right thing’ gain a reputational advantage. It is essential that the vision, values and statements transfer into tangible practice and don’t remain just a Board vision. The image of the organisation can have a very positive impact on its employees making it an “employer of choice”.

Customers are more likely to do business with a caring company and employees are also more likely to want to work for a caring employer. It is also highly likely that employees who are content and happy with their conditions of employment are more productive and dedicated to the organisation. This leads to improved staff retention and a reduction in recruitment costs.

Disabled people as consumers

Understanding the impact of disability on an organisation makes good business sense.
• There are 10 million people with disabilities in the UK with a combined annual spending power of £220 billion (6)
• There are 33% of people aged 50 – 65 that have a disability and 42% of people over 65 have a disability (7)
• In the next 25 years the 50 + generation is estimated to grow by more than 6 million. Consumer spending for the 50 – 69 was £300 billion a year purchasing designer fashions, premium cars and other expensive goods at a higher rate than any other age group. The average spend for 50 – 69 households is £213 per week compared with £135 per week for all other age groups (8)

Professional advice, guidance and practical support

Supported employment offers a comprehensive package of advice, guidance and support. This includes conducting employee specific risk assessments in the workplace, practical hands-on 1:1 support and, where required, specialised instruction for the employee to be trained to carry out the tasks of the job to meet the expectations of the employer.

Support is ongoing and gradually tapers away as the employee adapts to the workplace and gains the confidence to work independently of support. Support can be called on to deal with any unforeseen issues that may arise requiring the professional expertise of the support worker. The availability of long term support is a key factor in the success of supported employment.

Financial support

Some welfare to work initiatives can offer initial financial support to the employer during the early stages of employing a person with a disability. There may be funding available for the cost of accredited training. There is also financial assistance available through Access to Work where adaptations are required to support the employee with a disability to carry out their work successfully.

Supported employment agencies will make every effort to identify and secure any available funding on behalf of the employee and their employer.

Realising the benefits of recruiting a diverse workforce

Effectively managing the diverse profile of a workforce makes good business sense. Organisations that are committed to ensuring that the workforce matches the profile of the community they share and serve are more likely to maintain a competitive edge and attract a diverse customer base.

This can be achieved by a diverse workforce informing, influencing and improving the range and quality of services they provide and the design and variety of products they manufacture for the customer.

The legal case

It's not just about recruitment. Those organisations that recruit disabled workers tend to be better at retaining disabled staff. It may be necessary to make reasonable adjustments but these tend to be straight forward and inexpensive. A high number of cases of discrimination that are presented to courts and employment tribunals result from an organisation failing to comply with the duty to make a reasonable adjustment. Cases that are brought before the courts and are successful can lead to the organisation being fined considerable sums of money and court costs.

The reputation of an organisation can be seriously damaged by widespread negative publicity. This can lead to a loss of customers or failure to succeed in bidding for contracts to provide service. Other financial implications can include increased insurance premiums or difficulty in securing cover.

(1) Adults with learning difficulties in England 2003/04, Eric Emerson (2005)
(2) Labour Force Survey 2011
(3) ASCOF Health and Social Care indicators 2015-16
(4) DWP Working Paper 58: The Impact of Disability Benefits (Richard Berthoud)
(5) Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey, Jan - March 2009
(7) DWP December 2015
(7) Labour force survey – Autumn 2005
(8) Mintel research quoted in the Guardian