97% of employers benefit from hiring people with disability

Joseph, overcame the barrier of disability to find work with support from APM

Ninety-Seven per cent of Australian employers believe there are major benefits in hiring people with disability despite continued challenges to greater employment and inclusion, according to APM’s 2021 APM Disability, Diversity & Inclusivity (DDI) Index.

As Australia prepares to recognise International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), the DDI Index evaluates disability diversity and inclusion in the nation’s workplaces.

The 2021 Index score was 56.2, down marginally from last year’s inaugural score of 57.6 indicating the impact of COVID-19 that led to a decline in Culture and Accessibility scores.

Positively, the survey highlighted a significant increase in Career Equity, up 19.5 percentage points to 67.2 off the back of the government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme.

While the 2021 report found most businesses embraced the benefits of disability employment, in many cases businesses believed it was altruistic, benefiting the employee more so than the business.

“While it’s encouraging to see so many employers getting behind disability employment, too often it’s seen as a “good thing to do” as opposed to a smart move that benefits the overall business through greater productivity and inclusion,” APM Group CEO Michael Anghie said.

Loyal and reliable employees

Mr Anghie said research has consistently shown that people with disability have lower rates of absenteeism taking less sick and personal leave and have higher retention rates than other workers.

Nearly three in five (57.9%) employers with experience hiring people with disability say they have gained organisational benefits, the most common being improvements in workplace culture and skill diversity. Only 8.9% cited no benefits at all.

In contrast, 34% of employers with no experience hiring people with disability believe they would provide organisational benefits, but 21% think it would be detrimental, and Mr Anghie said many remain on the fence, or uncertain of the benefits.

“Lack of ‘suitable roles’ is cited by 53% of employers as the main factor stopping recruitment of people with disability, suggesting many employers continue to underrate their capabilities,” he said.

Growing a diverse workforce

APM, Australia’s largest disability employment services provider, supports more than 50,000 job seekers assessed by Centrelink as eligible for the Disability Employment Services program in Australia.

Mr Anghie said working with both large national employers and smaller local businesses was key to assisting people with disability into employment.

“The benefits of employment for individual job seekers are many and we work with businesses to help them grow an effective and diverse workforce.

"At APM we take a hands-on individualised approach with each of our clients understanding their employments goals and unique skills, this is important to ensure sustainable employment with the right employer.

“Whether accessing government-funded wage subsidies and workplace modifications for eligible job seekers, or training members of a workforce to better understand their own health and the health needs of people with disability, employers receive significant Australian government support," Mr Anghie said.

APM's Disability Diversity & Inclusion Index brochure

APM Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index

APM first commissioned the Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index in 2019 to better understand community and business perceptions to help inform the national conversation about increased equality, diversity and inclusivity in Australian workplaces. The 2021 Index surveyed the views of 1,700 employees and employers.

Submit your details to download a copy of the Disability Diversity Inclusivity Index 2021, plus access to our research on the impact of COVID-19 on Australian workplaces.


About APM

  • APM is a global leader in human services that has been enabling better lives for more than 25 years. 
  • APM is the largest provider of disability employment services in Australia and supports over 1 million people each year to improve their life through employment and rehabilitation through its global operations. 
  • Globally, APM operates in 10 countries delivering a range of programs including employment services, allied health services, assessment services, psychological services, vocational rehabilitation, youth, justice and training.
  • The APM team of more than 7,000, delivers these services to public and private sector employers, participants and other clients from more than 800 locations across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the USA, Singapore and South Korea.

Further information: Adrian Bradley, General Manager Corporate Affairs adrian.bradley@apm.net.au.