Sector can help disabled people flourish, but warning against ‘inappropriate practices’

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Helping not hindering: Kate Nicholls says hospitality can help disabled people flourish, yet also issues warning (Getty/ sturti)
Helping not hindering: Kate Nicholls says hospitality can help disabled people flourish, yet also issues warning (Getty/ sturti)

Related tags Diversity Training Disability Health and safety Kate nicholls

The hospitality industry can lead the way in helping disabled people to flourish, but disability monitoring and reporting could lead to inappropriate practices, according to UKHospitality (UKH).

This comes in response to a consultation- part of the National Disability Strategy- looking at how Government and employers can make workplaces more inclusive for disabled people and increase transparency. The strategy was developed with the input of more than 14,000 disabled people, as well as disability organisations, businesses, policy experts and others. 

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls, who works closely with the Cabinet Office in her role as Disability and Access Ambassador, said: “We want to see more hospitality businesses implementing practices to allow disabled people to flourish in our sector, drawing on their personal qualities and skills. This, and promoting the work of organisations excelling in this area, can nurture well-informed public discussion about inclusivity.” 

Clear guidance needed

“In order to recruit inclusively, with confidence, and to engage with monitoring, hospitality businesses are going to need clear, robust guidance," Nicholls said. However, she added, mandatory disability monitoring and reporting were not the way forward.  

More than one-in-five people in the UK are disabled,​ which equates to over 14m people. One area highlighted​ in the Government report was that many disabled people feel excluded from leisure and socialising, and accessibility issues, stigma and the need to manage energy and pain levels were barriers to participation. 

What’s more, the report also revealed that 13.9% of disabled people regularly felt lonely, compared with 3.8% of non-disabled people.  

A delicate matter

“Disability continues to be a delicate matter and we’re concerned that mandatory reporting could prompt the implementation of inappropriate practices, for example, data collection performed in a way that fails to capture the nuance and complexity of the workforce’s demographics and the business’ inclusivity,” Nicholls said. 

She concluded: “This could lead to misrepresentation of how inclusive businesses are, which would be to the detriment of consumers, employees and competition within the sector.” 

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