Recite Me

Two thirds believe London 2012 created a lasting legacy within the workplace as disability awareness soars a year after Games

  • 67% believe the profile and awareness of disability has been raised generally
  • 65% believe that disabled people are better recognised as being able to lead normal lives and achieve at work
  • 39% believe work colleagues are more aware of disability
  • 35% think there are less barriers for disabled people regarding work and promotion

Attitudes towards disability within the UK workplace have significantly improved since the London 2012 Paralympic Games, according to research by Nationwide Building Society.

The results highlight the impact that last summer’s event had on people’s lives, with the winning efforts of Paralympians David Weir, Jonnie Peacock and Ellie Simmonds becoming the top three memories that helped create a legacy within offices, schools, warehouses and shops across the UK*.

Giles Long MBE, triple Paralympic Gold medal winning swimmer, said: “The Games really paved the way for people to start talking openly about these incredible athletes without feeling the need to side-step the disability issue. It is no longer a taboo subject, simply part of normal conversation.”

Around 78% of disabled people acquire their impairment aged 16 or older, according to disability charity Papworth Trust. Nationwide Building Society currently employs 182 people recorded as disabled and has a strong track record for promoting disability through its charitable work and meeting the needs of its disabled members. The Society is recognised for its employment strategy through the ‘Positive About Disabled People’ two ticks symbol* and launched a dedicated staff disability network in January, which is backed at Board level and provides a forum for disabled staff to bring relevant issues to the attention of the organisation.

Nationwide’s poll shows that more than two thirds (67%) of all UK adults believe that the profile of disability - such as the awareness of different types of conditions - has been raised since the Games, while less than a fifth (18%) said companies are less supportive of the needs of disabled people since the Paralympics. Public opinion also suggests that the change in attitude has led to an increase in job opportunities for disabled people – 35% stated that the barriers disabled people have faced in work, including access to work and promotion, are less significant than they were before the Games.

Furthermore, nearly two thirds (65%) agreed that disabled people have been recognised more than ever as being able to lead normal lives and achieve great things since the Games, while 61% stated that people’s attitudes have changed in thinking that those who are disabled can be active members of companies, communities and clubs. In both cases, only 7% of people surveyed disagreed.

Employees also feel that colleagues have become more aware of disability since last summer, with 39% noticing an improvement in their place of work, while 7% were aware of an incident in which a disabled employee has not been given support they require, such as specialist equipment or general assistance.

Despite a positive outlook, the survey also reveals that poor access at work remains the biggest bugbear of those wishing to see improvements made for disabled people over the next 12 months, in addition to a need to recruit more disabled people into companies*.

Nationwide prides itself as a diverse employer with a distinct culture, reflective of being a mutual and run for the benefit of its members. Nationwide had worked with Disability Sports Events (DSE) for over ten years (ending March 2013) to help increase participation for disabled people by supporting national sporting events and developing the charity’s profile and volunteering networks. On an annual basis the support from Nationwide has helped DSE to engage 500 swimmers at a national level and 1,000 at regional level.