Business leaders would be 'apprehensive' if they employed a disabled person to a senior position

The vast majority of business leaders would be “apprehensive” if they employed a disabled person for a senior role.

A survey found that 78 per cent of business leaders would have some apprehension, as well as 20 per cent who said they would be very apprehensive when making this hiring decision.

The survey was commissioned by executive search firm Inclusive Boards and conducted by research firm Survation.

In contrast, only 11 per cent said they would have no concerns about a person with a disability filling a senior role.

The main reason why this concern exists is that employers feel that a disabled senior staff member would be too costly. As they would need to make more adjustments for their needs.

Under half (41 per cent) of business leaders hold the opinion that disabled people might take a lot of sick leave, as well as 27 per cent think the organisation would not benefit from employing a disabled person.

Angela Matthews, head of policy and research at the Business Disability Forum, said:

The survey highlights some of the prejudices and inaccuracies around disability which continue to exist and which make it difficult for people to talk openly about their disability.

Recruiting senior staff should never be about whether or not a person has a disability. It should be about recruiting people with the best talent and skills to take the organisation forward.

Sophie Wingfield, head of policy and public affairs at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said:

It is appalling that negative attitudes about hiring disabled people continue to persist, particularly among business leaders.

Dr Zofia Bajorek, research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), said:

The reason regarding ‘apprehension regarding reasonable adjustments costing a lot of money’ is particularly concerning, given there is evidence to show that the smallest of adjustments could make a dramatic difference for those with disabilities and that reasonable adjustments are a legal requirement and not just a nice thing to do.

In order to collate this data, the survey asked 1,002 business leaders.

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Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.