August 12 - Attitudes towards disability within the UK workplace have significantly improved one year on from the London 2012 Paralympic Games, creating a lasting legacy for disability awareness, according to research carried out by the Nationwide Building Society.
The exploits of British athletes such as David Weir, Jonnie Peacock and Ellie Simmonds during London 2012 have led to 67 per cent of people surveyed in the online poll believing that profile and awareness of disability has been raised generally, while 64 per cent said disabled people are better recognised as being able to lead normal lives and achieve at work.
"The Games really paved the way for people to start talking openly about these incredible athletes without feeling the need to side-step the disability issue," said three-time Paralympic gold medal winning swimmer Giles Long.
"It is no longer a taboo subject, simply part of normal conversation.
"It's wonderful that awareness and acceptance has emerged as a legacy by entering into our everyday lives.
"While there is much more to be done in addressing inequalities that still exist, the Paralympics has clearly got us moving in the right direction."
The YouGov poll surveyed 2,606 adults across the UK and found that 39 per cent of people believe work colleagues are more aware of disability and 35 per cent indicated that they thought there are fewer barriers for disabled people regarding work and promotion since the Games last year, although 18 per cent of those surveyed said that they believe companies are less supportive of the needs of disabled people since the Paralympics.
"There has certainly been a spike in disability awareness since the Games and this has affected the corporate world in a way we might not have imagined 12 months ago," said Annette Angell, corporate fundraising manager at the Papworth Trust disability charity, which claimed that round 78 per cent of disabled people acquire their impairment aged 16 or older.
"Equality can only be achieved by giving disabled people more choice on where they can work and greater independence.
"We should therefore champion those companies who are doing the right thing by being committed to recruiting and developing disabled staff."
While the overall outlook a year on from the Paralympic Games in London is generally positive, the survey also reveals that poor access at work remains the biggest issue for those wishing to see improvements made for disabled people over the next 12 months, in addition to a need to recruit more disabled people into companies, with seven per cent of respondents saying that they were aware of an incident in which a disabled employee has not been given support they require, such as specialist equipment or general assistance.
Nationwide Building Society currently employs 182 people recorded as disabled and its employment strategy has been recognised by the "Positive About Disabled People" campaign while the company also launched a dedicated staff disability network in January of this year.
"The London 2012 Paralympic Games marked a turning point for disability awareness in the UK," said Alison Robb, group director at Nationwide, which has also been a supporting partner for Disability Sports Events (DSE) for ten years, which aims to increase participation for disabled people by supporting national sporting events and developing the charity's profile and volunteering networks.
"As a nation, we are placing increasing emphasis on the ability within disability.
"At Nationwide, we pride ourselves on being a diverse employer with a fantastic culture, which is why we refuse to see disability as a barrier to work.
"And just as we have drawn inspiration from the Games to further develop a dedicated staff disability network, other businesses should embrace this step-change and look to make as compelling a case as possible for people with disabilities to apply for jobs.
"While inequalities remain, we are clearly moving in the right direction."
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