Nearly half (46 per cent) of senior decision-makers at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the South East surveyed by YouGov for RICS said disabled people would find it ‘difficult’ in their workplace, while 22 per cent felt disabled people were not generally supported where they work.
A lack of appropriate access was viewed as the primary barrier to increasing diversity (38 per cent) among SME decision-makers in the South East, followed by the lack of availability of diverse candidates (15 per cent).
Nearly one in ten also noted the lack of diversity in business role models (8 per cent).
Of those surveyed, 53 per cent agreed with the statement that ‘some industries are not suitable for disabled people’, while 28 per cent did feel that there were no barriers to increasing diversity in their workplace.
SMEs make up 70 per cent of the RICS membership in the UK.
Kevin Millin, founder of ‘Disabled People in Construction’ and Senior QS with Beard Construction, has been disabled for the last ten years.
He said: “While I’ve been fortunate to work for a supporting and accommodating company, I’m acutely aware of the challenges people with disabilities face in the workplace.
“Of course, there are the practical challenges but the message that people with disabilities can prosper within the construction and property industry needs to be louder to change attitudes.
“Small but significant changes must be made if we want to better utilise this largely untapped talent pool.”
Additionally, almost a quarter of respondents (17 per cent) in the South East said that a pay gap still exists between men and women in SMEs, while 21 per cent agreed that SMEs cannot afford to invest in diversity, with a similar number (22 per cent) including agreeing that providing flexible working arrangements can prove costly.
Lucile Kamar, Equalities Manager, RICS, said: “Having a diverse workforce is vital for future-proofing the property and construction industry.
“We have to ensure that our profession is relevant and fit for the future and one of the ways to ensure this is to make the workplace as accessible as possible so that we can reach out to and retain a diverse talent pool.
“The results of this survey show that there is still much work to do in terms of breaking down barriers, altering perceptions, and addressing the lack of support in some workplaces for those with disabilities.”
The YouGov survey results are ahead of RICS’s Diversity and Inclusion Conference, which takes place in London on the June 29.
For further information please see http://www.rics.org/uk/training-events/conferences-seminars/rics-diversity--inclusion-conference/london/
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