IS OUTDATED WORKPLACE TECH LIMITING OPPORTUNITIES?
It’s a scenario that many people might recognise – their organisation is good at talking about diversity but doesn’t seem to support the talk with action.
In fact, according to recent research, around 77% of disabled knowledge workers (workers whose job involves using or handling information) in the UK think that outdated technology is, in fact, limiting work opportunities for people with disabilities. And around 73% of IT decision makers agree. Yet, the technology that should enable businesses to employ a person with a disability as a knowledge worker exists – supposedly increasing opportunities all round.
The aim of the research was to explore whether this technology was increasing employment opportunities for individuals and creating more potential in the workforce for UK organisations.
It showed that the IT departments in around 88% of UK businesses have a specific role and budget to support workforce diversification – for example, employing people with disabilities.
Besides this, the majority of CIOs or IT department leads are involved in discussions focused on facilitating disability inclusion through technology. However, there seems to be a mismatch between preparations that businesses make and what employees actually need.
Almost 25% of disabled knowledge workers think that the impact of new technology on employees with disabilities isn’t really considered at all, and a further 43% think that it’s only sometimes considered. And yet, around 65% of disabled knowledge workers think that employers have been flexible when it comes to implementing technology that helps them do their job – for example through IT which allows for flexible working hours or assistive technology.
However, 72% of disabled knowledge workers feel that businesses are not set up with the right technology to enable them to work in their most suitable way – and almost 61% think that businesses are still subject to presenteeism which makes life harder for those with disabilities (highlighting the fact that technology that enables more flexible and remote working makes a company more appealing). Yet, the productivity or potential productivity benefits that come with the flexibility to work remotely seem obvious.
Whilst some businesses advocate flexible working, it seems that it’s not particularly or actively encouraged – even though it’s an opportunity to create a working environment and culture to enable a genuinely diverse workforce.
So, the upshot of the survey seems to be that while many disabled knowledge workers feel that businesses are improving their support and employment opportunities, they must act as well as talk.
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