“94% of business leaders agreed that prejudice against mental health was a problem in their company and 20% of employees with mental health problems felt pressured to resign.” 

- The Health Insurance Company

Many individuals who suffer from a physical or mental disability have to struggle with the symptoms of their condition, as well as the devastating impact of disability discrimination. As a consequence, these individuals are likely to experience a diminished quality of life and the discrimination itself may in fact exacerbate their problems. Do you really think this is fair?

Why might disability discrimination occur?

  • A lack of knowledge or understanding about a condition
  • Social stigma associated with a disability
  • Unconscious biases/implicit stereotypes
  • Negative physiological arousal – Physiological measures of stress increased in individuals when they imagined meeting someone labelled as ‘mentally ill’ (Graves et al. 2005).

What affect might disability discrimination have on your employees?

Other than a diminished quality of life, disability discrimination can negatively impact your employee’s performance at work and it can cause the individual to experience a whole host of other problems.

  1. Have you ever considered that disability discrimination may in, fact, cause the disabled individual to engage in a self-fulfilling prophecy? If disabled employees are treated as incompetent, chances are, they are likely to become incompetent, or at least align their behaviour to confirm these expectations. This will not do your company any favours!
  2. Disabled employees might internalise discriminatory attitudes and behaviours to the extent that they develop a self-stigma. This self-stigma can have a crippling effect on their mental health, self-esteem and social behaviour and as a result, physically disabled individuals could potentially develop a mental disability too. I think we will all agree that this is the last thing anyone would want to happen!
  3. An increased rate of absenteeism – Disabled employees may become overwhelmed with feelings of stress, resulting in an increase of stress-related illnesses. This again, can be problematic for your business and of course, problematic for the employee themselves.

What are the benefits of employing disabled workers?

Other than the obvious reasons, employing disabled employees can work in every businesses favour. According to research, disabled employees have been found to:

  • Stay in their jobs longer
  • Show greater commitment
  • Have lower rates of absenteeism
  • Bring fresh insights which may help companies to cater to the needs of disabled customers

Author: Megan Lazenby, Online Marketing, Masterclass Training Ltd

Interesting and Useful Links:

Causes, Meaning & Consequences of Disability Discrimination

How Self-Stigma Hurts People with Depression

Understanding the Impact of Stigma on People with Mental Illness

Obesity: A New Disability?

A Guide to Providing Reasonable Adjustments

Disability Discrimination Advice Guide

What is Disability Discrimination?

How to Help Someone with a Mental Illness