This article was written by Polly Wardrop, Senior Analyst, FSCB Insights
Using data from our annual Employee Survey, we have spoken previously about the challenge of improving the experiences of employees with a disability in financial services workplaces is an important challenge in need of address.
Further findings from the Inclusion Measurement Survey we ran in partnership with the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) provides further evidence highlighting both the importance of prioritising improving the experience of employees with a disability, as well as some of the main areas to improve.
What we found
Findings showed that, when controlling for other factors, employees with a disability answered most questions more negatively than those without.
Employees with disabilities shared that:
- they are less likely to feel they have access to fair progression or the ability to raise concerns, especially those not in leadership
- they are more likely than those without disabilities to suggest that leaders should demonstrated more inclusive attitudes, and
- their organisation would benefit from training on inclusive practices.
Employees with a disability and within the 25 to 44 age group answered the Survey questions on average more negatively than their younger and older counterparts. Those without a disability answered the Survey questions similarly across most age groups, with a small increase in the proportion of positive responses among those aged 45 to 54.
Fair access to progression
The largest difference in responses between those with and those without a disability related to having fair access to progression opportunities. 73% of employees without a disability said that they had fair access to progression opportunities compared with 67% of those with a disability.
Among those with a disability, 92% of those in a leadership team said that they had fair access to progression opportunities compared with 59% of those who were not in a leadership role.
When asked about what leaders could do on inclusion, 18% of responses from employees with a disability related to recruitment, reward, progression and workload, compared with 13% from those without a disability. Suggestions from disabled employees included more diverse recruitment, more (and more accessible) learning and development opportunities, better transparency and action on pay gaps, offering equal opportunities for growth, more focus on wellbeing and healthy work environments, and better awareness of disability in the context of D&I.
‘[Leaders should] review HR policies including recruitment and office working practices with external bodies such as the EHRC and also charities representing differently-abled people.’
‘Listen to the concerns of the staff about colleagues’ wellbeing, taken action to relieve high levels of pressure/stress.’
‘[Provide] support and mentor opportunities that are appropriate for everyone; these may be gender, race, LGBTQ+ orientated.’
A higher proportion of disabled employees (36%) also worried that the people they interacted with at work might draw conclusions about their ability based on stereotypes about their identity or background, compared with those without a disability (16%).
Again, this was higher among disabled employees not within the leadership teams (34%) than those who were (19%).
Speaking up and listening
On average across all questions, scores were broadly similar among those in leadership roles who had a disability and those who did not, and scores were lowest among those who had a disability and were not in a leadership team. The main exception was on the question related to being worried about the negative consequences of raising concerns. Among those in leadership teams, 8% of those without a disability said that they would worry, rising to 27% among disabled employees (the same proportion as those with a disability and not in a leadership team).
74% of employees with a disability also said that leaders within their organisation were open to feedback, rising to 84% of those without a disability, and disabled employees responded less positively than those without a disability when asked whether people sought and respected different opinions when making decisions and whether they felt listened to when speaking up.
When asked what leaders could do to make their organisation more inclusive, employees with a disability were more likely to reference ‘listening and openness’.
Suggestions included leaders more actively seeking feedback from a broader range of employees and listening to staff at all levels of their organisation. Some of these responses were also paired with requests for leaders to be more open to different ideas, and to act on (or at least respond to) feedback when provided.
‘Be open to feedback, there is still a tendency not to want to challenge the status quo.’
‘Listen, request feedback, act with courage, push for change.’
‘Listen and learn about each team and individual thoughts – let us all be a part of change and development.’
Employees with a disability were less likely than those without a disability to say that there was ‘nothing further’ that leaders could do to improve inclusivity in their organisation, and more likely to suggest that leaders should demonstrate more inclusive attitudes.
Employees with a disability were also more likely than those without to agree on the benefits of more training on inclusive practices would benefit their organisation.
What can firms do?
Industry wide research helps to uncover the varied experiences of diverse employees within financial services. Recognising and understanding this diversity of experience is an essential start to developing an inclusive work environment for all. In addition to providing an understanding of the more specific challenges in need of address in improving the inclusion of employees with disabilities in financial services, the FSCB and FSSC also found four principle actions that organisations can take to help improve inclusion:
1. Understand and measure inclusion – not just diversity – within firms
Firms should aim to measure both diversity and inclusion in the workplace, in a way that allows different views across employees to be gathered and assessed. A detailed firm-wide view is necessary to uncover the variations in employment sentiment and experience.
2. Develop and demonstrate a culture of listening and learning
Firms should visibly demonstrate that employee feedback is being listened to, and that giving feedback is recognised and valued.
3. Maintain and demonstrate fair and transparent processes and systems
As the workplace evolves, firms should keep internal processes and systems under review from a fairness perspective.
4. Demonstrate strong leadership on inclusion
Ambitions around inclusion need to be reflected at all levels within the company with clear leadership and managers ensuring individuals are being recognised when they promote inclusion.
More on the Inclusion Measurement Survey
The Inclusion Measurement Survey ran in late 2021 and received responses from 3,016 employees across 13 FSCB and FSSC member firms and the findings and recommended actions drawn from the insight gathered are outlined in the report; Inclusion across financial services: Piloting a common approach to measurement, launched in February 2022.
The Survey asked questions related to five pillars of organisational inclusion: inclusive leadership, speaking up, inclusive systems and processes, belonging and stereotyping.
The broad response base allows us to report on both experiences of employees with a disability in the workplace, and how this varies when looking at intersectional demographic groups.