Britain’s retailers are being encouraged to sign up to the Disability Confident scheme to ensure they don’t miss out on the skills and talents people living with disabilities can bring to the workplace.
The government wants more retailers to realise the benefits of employing people living with disabilities as they launches a new campaign for the scheme, which was first launched in November 2016.
The Disability Confident scheme provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence they need to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees, and sends a message to both colleagues and customers that partaking retailers take inclusion seriously and value diversity.
According to the latest official statistics, around 123,000 vacancies exist in the retail and wholesale sector and the government has ambitions to see one million more people living with disabilities with a job by 2027.
It said the retail and wholesale sectors offered huge potential for them, especially since it already employs over five million in the UK.
“Disabled people can bring a wealth of talent and different perspectives to an organisation, and I want to encourage more retailers to make sure they’re not missing out on this huge untapped pool of talent,” Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, health and work, said.
She added: “We’ve made progress, but I want more retailers to sign up to improve equality of opportunity in this thriving sector and give more disabled people the chance of a fulfilling career.”
The new campaign will be spearheaded by retail leaders, including the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Post Office.
“The retail industry wants to be a diversity and inclusion leader in order to harness the talents of the whole labour market,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“Disability Confident is an incredibly useful scheme that provides practical support to enable retailers to recruit and retain colleagues with disabilities.
“As a Disability Confident employer ourselves, along with some of our members, we look forward to working with the government to drive awareness of the scheme and increase the number of Disability Confident employers from across the retail industry.”
Last year, Sainsbury’s was awarded the Disability Confident Leader status, the biggest retailer to have achieved the status so far.
“Through our involvement in the Disability Confident Business Leader’s Group, we’re able to share our experiences and advice with other retailers with the aim to encourage them to have confidence in employing people with a disability, providing these colleagues with the opportunity to realise their potential,” Sainsbury’s corporate services director Tim Fallowfield said.
“We are very proud to have achieved the status of Disability Confident Leader, which recognises our hard work in this area, and hope to see a growing number of retailers sign up to the scheme.”