Hidden in the frequency of election coverage last week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2018, the average pay for disabled employees was 12.2% lower than the average pay for non-disabled employees. This is the first official report of its type and it is clear to see there is a disability pay gap. While I applaud progress in conducting this type of report, the findings are dispiriting.
Underpaying disabled people is totally unacceptable. Disabled staff have a huge contribution to make and should not be made to feel second class or unequal to their colleagues.
For businesses having a default position of paying less is a throwback to the old days of subsidies to take disabled staff members as part of a corporate social responsibility. Nonsense. And it needs to stop.
Narrowing the employment gap for disabled people is a clear metric of success for Purple. We are unique in working with disabled people to make individuals ready for employment or help guide those back into work who have acquired a disability. We also work with businesses to promote the value of existing and future disabled staff members as part of their pipeline of talent. Overall, we help people understand that disability inclusion holds great value to organisations which should resonate from the core of the organisation.
Over the last couple of years, the gender pay gap has received a lot of publicity and focus. And rightly so. I sit on the Board of CareTech, a leading private social care provider, and the gender pay gap is a regular item on the agenda. Performance, findings and actions are now an integral part of the annual report.
Whether a legal requirement or not, organisations should report their figures on disability in the same way.
Purple is relentless in getting organisations to see disability as a commercial opportunity. As Jill Miller from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development succinctly puts it: “Businesses that aren’t inclusive – and don’t manage disability effectively – risk missing out on hard working and talented individuals and damaging their reputation among staff and customers”.
As I write this blog, I am sitting in a café of a well-known supermarket brand being served by Martin, an individual with a moderate learning disability (my customer experience has been superb). A seed of doubt whether he is being paid the same as colleagues (for the same role) occupies my mind. I have to trust he is, but it niggles.
Disability inclusion is equally important in diversity conversations and should not feel like a distant cousin.
Chief Executive Officer
10 December 2019