The government is calling retailers in the UK to sign up to its new scheme which encourages businesses to employ disabled people in their ranks.
The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, is fronting the new campaign and believes there is significant potential for disabled people to fill some of the estimated 123,000 vacancies currently existing in the retail and wholesale sector.
The government wants to see a million more disabled people in work by 2027 and believes the retail sector can benefit from signing up to its scheme.
Ms Newton said that disabled people can “bring a wealth of talent and different perspectives” to an organisation.
Many mobility dealers in the country are already benefitting from the pool of talent and have brought disabled people into their team. For some retailers disabled staff can be a valuable asset, offering personal advice and insight into equipment which more able-bodied people might struggle to offer.
“Becoming Disability Confident sends a clear message to both colleagues and customers that retailers take inclusion seriously and value diversity,” said Ms Newton.
“We’ve made progress, but I want more retailers to sign up to improve equality of opportunity in this thriving sector and give more disabled people the chance of a fulfilling career.”
The retail and wholesale sector is one of the largest in the UK, employing over five million people and the government estimated that the spending power of the 11 million disabled people in the UK and their households – ‘the purple pound’ – is almost £250 billion.
The campaign is being spearheaded by retail sector leaders, including the British Retail Consortium, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and the Post Office.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The retail industry wants to be a diversity and inclusion leader in order to harness the talents of the whole labour market. Disability Confident is an incredibly useful scheme that provides practical support to enable retailers to recruit and retain colleagues with disabilities.
“As a Disability Confident employer ourselves, along with some of our members, we look forward to working with the government to drive awareness of the scheme and increase the number of Disability Confident employers from across the retail industry.”