Three reasons why a disability inclusive workplace is a good idea

Five people in an office chatting or looking at their laptopsInclusive working environments often don’t happen without some planning and consideration. Once your organisation begins its journey towards disability inclusivity, the rewards then start. According to a report by McKinsey, diverse teams outperform uniform teams by up to 38%.

80% of disabled people acquire their disability during their working life. Having a disability inclusive workplace will ensure that teams are supported to continue to work productively and comfortably regardless of disability. 

This blog outlines three good reasons why prioritising creating a disability inclusive workplace is an essential part of any organisations strategy. 


Firstly, organisations have a legal obligation under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to support people identifying with any of the nine protected characteristics:

  1. Age
  2. Race
  3. Gender
  4. Sexual orientation
  5. Disability
  6. Religion or belief
  7. Gender reassignment
  8. Pregnancy/maternity
  9. Partnership and marriage

The disability category is broad and affects a high number of staff, with a high likelihood of intersectionality with other protected characteristics.

There is also a legal duty for organisations to provide accessible digital experiences under the The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR). This legislation affects all public sector bodies and anyone supplying products or services to the public sector.


The moral case is straightforward. Providing an equitable experience for all employees regardless of disability is quite simply the right thing to do. However, as Bert Massie, former Chair of the Disability Rights Commission said; "Disability is an open club. Hang around for long enough and you’ll become a member!" 

Beyond individual need, people increasingly value how other people are treated and represented by their company, regardless of their own situation. There is a high value attached to inclusive culture by most employees. Glassdoor for example, reports that 3 out of 4 workers attach high importance to diversity when selecting somewhere new to work.


There is a strong business case for creating a disability inclusive workplace. A study by Accenture reports that organisations that prioritise disability and inclusion had on average 28% higher revenue,100% higher net income, 30% higher economic profit margins, and 200% increased likelihood of outperforming their peers in total shareholder returns.

How to begin your disability inclusion journey

White board with coloured post-it notes lined up and a person pointing to themThe first step is to set a benchmark to build a picture of where you are currently with disability inclusion. This is a journey and it can seem overwhelming if you try to do everything at once. So your next step is to create a meaningful roadmap, with an actionable way forward. 

AbilityNet offers a free training course, to help organisations take these first steps: identifying where you are and providing ideas on how to build a roadmap forwards. Join us for this interactive session where we will work our way through the stages in the employee inclusion journey considering where you are, and where you need to get to, to remove the barriers for your team members. 

Having a clear picture of where you are now with disability inclusion, and a roadmap to move forward, will transform your ability to make meaningful progress.

How to move to the next level

Building a disability inclusive workplace is a journey that is ongoing. There is always something further to consider and focus on. You need to treat it like any other business objective, engage your whole team, especially those with lived experience of disability, in setting goals and targets and making a plan to achieve this. A helpful way to think about your progress is to use the analogy of the evolution of an Oak Tree. During our training, our AbilityNet presenters consider each step in the employee inclusion journey: 

  • Acorn
  • Seedling
  • Sapling
  • Tree

For each step in the journey (recruitment, onboarding, teamwork and collaboration, performance and career development and more) you can reflect on where your organisation is now. You may find that for some elements you are still at seedling stage, taking a reactive approach to disability inclusion. In other areas, you might be a mature oak tree, extending useful productive tools to benefit your whole team.

In our last training session, we asked the attendees, which stage they feel they are at right now overall, 6% answered acorns, 50% seedlings, 34% saplings, and just 9% considered their maturity level for disability inclusion to be that of a mature oak tree.

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