The Importance of Considering Hidden Disabilities as an Inclusive Employer

Hidden disabilities inclusive employers

In light of Disability History Month this December 2023, it is important to be aware of hidden disabilities and how they can affect your employees. An inclusive workplace should foster an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to thrive. It is, therefore, crucial for employers to be aware of hidden disabilities and to understand how to support employees with disabilities. 

In the Centre for Talent Innovation’s “Disabilities and Inclusion” study, 30% of the professional workforce fits the current definition of having a disability. However, a staggering 61% of those employees have not disclosed their disability to their manager. There are many reasons as to why someone might not disclose their disability, even though it affects their working life. For example, some may fear harrassment or bullying, others may fear that their manager will see their disability as an indication of incompetence, weakness, or laziness.



What Are Hidden Disabilities?

Hidden disabilities are disabilities that may go unnoticed as they are not obvious or immediately apparent to an outside perspective.

In reality, there are hundreds of disabilities, both physical and mental, that can go unnoticed. Some examples of hidden physical disabilities are: Chron’s Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Lupus, Insomnia, and Fibromyalgia. Some examples of hidden mental disabilities are: Autism, Panic Disorder, ADHD, Agoraphobia, and Depression.

Those with disabilities may have more difficulty finding work and face barriers as they may have specific needs and requirements. In terms of inclusive recruitment, as an employer, it is important to consider candidates with disabilities. First and foremost as a matter of equal opportunity and human rights, but secondly, given the opportunity in an inclusive environment, we have found those with disabilities to be a loyal, hard-working, and committed workforce.

“IBD impacts my work mostly when I'm having a flare-up with fatigue and stomach pains. I also need to manage hospital and GP appointments and be at home to receive my drugs as they need to be kept in the fridge. At WISE, flexible working has always made my life easier... If I need to move my hours around to accommodate appointments or tests, I can do that.
Working from home gives me a better work/life balance. WISE has a very open culture, I always feel comfortable speaking about anything I might need support on. When it comes to being an inclusive employer, it is important to be open and talk to your employees to really understand what support they may need. Everyone is different and needs to be treated so.”

What Can Employers Do To Be Inclusive?

To support current employees, it is important to foster a safe workplace environment to have open discussions. Inclusivity means to “invite everyone to the party”, which is not the same as treating everyone equally. Get to know your employees and their individual needs or requirements to understand how to support each individual so that they have a fair chance at work.

As an employer, it is important to be educated on inclusive recruitment strategies, so as not to discriminate and offer every applicant an unbiased chance. WISE offers training and workshops to help you to become an inclusive employer.

Inclusive Recruitment Training

WISE provides in-depth inclusive recruitment training, which includes help in writing your inclusive job advert. WISE’s mission is to improve the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women and other diverse groups in STEM. Get in touch by following the link – we can provide tailored consultancy upon request. 

Read more about WISE Inclusive Recruitment Workshop

WISE Jobs Board

A key element of inclusive recruitment is job advert placement. The WISE jobs board is designed to position you as an employer of choice to thousands of women in STEM, as well as educators, advisers, women’s groups, professional bodies, and engaged contacts in universities and colleges. With over 15,000 views each month, WISE will help you find the right candidate.

Visit the WISE Jobs Board

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