Business seeks to improve employment outcomes for people with disability

17 July 2023

Tangible actions are needed in Australian workplaces to remove the barriers and improve employment outcomes for people with disability, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Australia has one of the lowest employment rates for people with disability in the OECD, ranking at 21 out of the 29 countries. This means people with disability represent one of Australia’s greatest underrepresented talent pools.

“The Business Council seeks to lift productivity and economic inclusion for all Australians, which is why we simply must do better.

“Late last year, the BCA surveyed its members to pull together existing strategies covering recruitment, retention and advancement of people with disability.

“In partnership with the Australian Network on Disability, the BCA is today releasing the key findings from that survey: Report on improving employment outcomes for people with disability.

Ninety-two percent of BCA members told us they want to recruit more people with a disability to their workforce.

“We know our members are committed to the employment of people with disability. However, it is clear from our survey that there is a lag in translating this into action that enables a meaningful increase in employment outcomes.

Australian Network on Disability CEO Corene Strauss said many businesses are open to making their workplaces more inclusive but simply don’t know where to start.

“Australians know the why, but they need the how. Once they can unlock some of the unintended barriers the process to build an inclusive organisation for employees and customers is a game changer. And they need not fear it,” Ms Strauss said.

Ms Westacott agrees, “in order to shift the dial in employment outcomes, we need a concerted effort to drive change from recruitment and job design and move from entry level jobs to advanced and executive roles as well as working with leadership teams.

“We know employment is key to unlocking economic security, independence and wellbeing – but it is also fundamental to our national prosperity,’’ the BCA chief executive said.

“The estimated economic benefit of employing people with disability would add over $50 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2050, if Australia moved into the top eight OECD countries for employing people with disability.

“We hope this report can serve as a starting point by laying out a set of tangible actions. This will lead to increased, sustainable and measurable improvements in employment and career advancement outcomes for people with disability.

“The Business Council and its members are driven to do better to ensure that all Australians are reaching their full potential and sharing in the opportunities and prosperity of our nation.

“Which is why we are releasing this guide today, outlining how some employers are leading the way in improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities,’’ Ms Westacott said.

Key survey findings


  • 63 per cent of BCA members receive applications from candidates with
  • 86 per cent offer an inclusive and accessible graduate recruitment
  • 39 per cent have reviewed their disability recruitment process externally and a further 17 per cent will be making further enhancements as a result.
  • A further 32 per cent have reviewed their processes internally or are about to
  • 37 per cent will be providing disability confidence training to their HR recruitment team in the next 12 months. 

Creating accessible workplaces

  • 78 per cent stated their company had a dedicated diversity role committed to promoting diversity and inclusion but 65 per cent still reported that limited resources was the number one barrier that prevented implementing employment initiatives.
  • 65 per cent of respondents said their company has implemented initiatives to increase the employment of people with disability. Chief among these were:
    • Building inclusive culture
    • Flexible work arrangements
    • Develop a disability employee network
    • Implemented a workplace adjustment process; and
    • Tailored

Disability employment

  • Access to appropriately qualified candidates (68 per cent), labour shortages (47 per cent) and expectations of staff (37 per cent) were the main factors influencing organisations’ willingness/ability to develop employment initiatives, focussed on people with disability in the future.
  • 27 per cent of respondents reported an increase in the number of people employed with disability in the last 12 months.
  • Only 6 per cent report having employees with disability at the executive/senior management.

Read our full report here.


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