The Paralympics/ParaBusiness scandal article with updated links...
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- How many business people regard themselves or admit to being disabled? Most people who are not business entrepreneurs but employees, housewives/husbands, family members, lovers and carers, to name but a few, will not admit to having a disability unless it is obvious. Why do people think that business people will be any different? The majority of people have a hidden sense of guilt when it comes to disability. I know many business people who are disabled but who will not admit it to their peers because they think they are “weak” in their colleagues’ eyes. As many small businesses are ‘one man bands’, admitting that they have a disability may destroy the brand they are trying to create. In the last census in 2001, there were 11.7 million people in this country with a disability. Only 3.6 million of those were wheelchair users, the most obvious ‘in your face’ disability. The majority of disabled people are those with a hearing impairment (8.7 million). There were approximately 1 million sight-impaired people at the 2001 census.
Disability is like an iceberg, 5% above the surface, and 95% below. Those who have a hidden disability fall into many categories such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, learning difficulties and mental health issues. These disabilities are managed everyday by a large number of people and to look at them you would not realise that they have a disability. To say “I have a disability” is a huge statement when you are running your own business and especially if you are a start up and need people’s custom. That is probably why there are insufficient statistics to inform the business world about the numbers of disabled business people.
I have a disability. I don’t mind people knowing because it helps me with my business, as I am an Equality, Diversity, and Disability Consultant. It is part of my job, but for many people it is not in their job description. Any admission may not assist them in getting contracts or picking up business if they admit that they have a weakness in whatever form it may take. Admission of a disability has to be a cultural change and the Paralympics will go a long way towards helping people come out of their shell, but until business people themselves accept that this is not a taboo subject, it will always be difficult to recruit, employ and retain staff or win contracts. It means a sea change in attitudes. After all, disability has been in the public domain since the 1600’s! It has been down to wars ever since to bring disability to the fore. Disabled people are still struggling for recognition as useful members of society. Give them the right tools and the environment in which to work productively and you have a useful member of staff. This view has yet to reach the majority. Maybe the Paralympics will change all that but I won’t hold my breath when money means more to Company Directors and their shareholders than retaining staff who are loyal, work hard and have an interest in the company and its’ future development.Sep 4, 2012
- Thanks for taking the time to reply. This is such a complicated area but just because it is a little tricky to navigate does not justify sweeping it under the carpet.
A proper conversation needs to take place to address the various issues. Campaigners have made great progress but the shiny thing that is the paralympics doesn't mean that all is OK.Sep 4, 2012
- I agree wholeheartedly. That proper conversation can only take place if people are willing to involve themselves in it. Disabled people should be involved in the conversations because they are the people who are most affected and they know what their needs are. We ignore those with a disability at our peril. We are a poorer society because we do ignore disabled people but the Paralympics may make people see disability differently. I rather think though that we should be talking about 'ability' rather than dis-ability. Perhaps the debate that you have started Robert will get things off the ground.Sep 4, 2012
- I hope I have got a few people thinking...Sep 4, 2012