Apt is Scotland’s first virtual Public Social Partnership; a large and growing partnership of over 60 partners working collaboratively to support the Scottish Government’s aim to half the Disability Employment Gap by 2038. In our work so far, we’ve learned that practical solutions, however innovative, are only part of the picture. The Disability Employment Gap continues to be impacted by workplace cultures driven by fear and a lack of knowledge and confidence.
Disabled people involved in the PSP – particularly via the Retention workstream – support a consistent message that many employers still fear, or actively avoid, workplace conversations with their disabled employees. Conversations that could provide the basis for lasting and supportive retention. This seems to be rooted in the imagined scenarios of conversations being awkward or difficult; worries about saying or doing the wrong thing, causing offence, appearing incompetent or even breaking the law. Some employers worry that hiring disabled people is somehow the role of ‘specialist’ organisations and that they don’t have that specialist knowledge.
The result? Inaction. Less disabled people being employed and staying in work. A continued Disability Employment Gap. We know this needs to be challenged: but we also know that simply being judgemental or critical of employers will not lead to change. Where there is fear, there is a need for support and encouragement.
To this end, we have been developing a collection of images, animations and messages that help us mirror some of the fears and myths at the heart of this issue, but with an overriding message that Apt are here to help, not to judge.