In the U.K. there are currently 14 million people who are registered as being disabled. 14 million. That’s quite a high number and comes to 22% of the total population which means that just over 1 in 5 people in the U.K have a disability. Yet, the awareness of these issues and accessibility and inclusiveness for this minority group (if you can call 22% a minority) still isn’t there. To contrast this with other minority groups we looked at some statistics from 2019 which show that:
- 2.4% of the population are students
- 8.2% of the population are over 75
- 2% make up the LGBTQ community (2017)
- 1.16% are Vegans
This makes up a total of 13.76% combined which is just over half of the disability group, yet the services available to many of them are much more visible. For example, Greggs released the vegan sausage roll which seems to have been quite a big hit (I’m not personally a fan but each to their own) but not all of their shops are accessible for disabled people.
You could argue that it’s impossible to cater for every minority and there is an element of truth in that. With the diversity that we currently have here in the U.K. it is difficult to make sure all groups are well provided for and I can certainly understand the reticence of many businesses. But the fact is they are missing out on billions of pounds of revenue by not making their services accessible for all.
According to www.wearepurple.org.uk 73% of disabled people have experienced barriers when visiting consumer websites and the estimates have shown that the approximately 4.3 million disabled online shoppers who move away from inaccessible websites have the combined potential spending power of £11.75 billion. Read that number again. £11.75 billion. Billions of pounds that U.K. businesses are losing by not spending a little bit of money to make their website more accessible.
When looking at physical premises 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility and/or customer service. So if you look at the figure of 22% of the population being disabled then that means that approximately 15% of the population are unable to spend their money in U.K. businesses. In 2017 it was estimated that the spending power of disabled people and their households was worth approximately £249 billion. In an economy that is currently not doing all that well, surely it would only benefit every business to at least try and improve their accessibility.
So why don’t they? There’s no clear answer on this but many will say that the cost would be prohibitive for them to make necessary adjustments. Others say that the disruption to their business would make it more difficult. But the changes don’t have to be cost heavy, it could be as simple as adding a bar in a toilet stall for a disabled person to help themselves up or a ramp for a wheelchair user. Restaurants could have menu’s with larger text or written in braille for the visually impaired. There are so many minor changes that can be made to get started, it doesn’t all have to be done at once. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
The fact is that any company is at its most successful when it is able to provide for a more diverse population of both customers and employees. Being inclusive and being seen as being inclusive can only be a positive reflection of the brand. Having a more diverse workforce also increases productivity and performance from employees and is much more likely to attract consumers. Happy, productive employees and returning customers? Who wouldn’t want that!
Having a disability doesn’t mean someone is less able or capable of spending money. They’re just the same as everyone else and want to spend their money where they can. So make sure you have the procedures (or even a plan) in place because with 22% of the population ready and willing to splash some cash the financial benefits could be huge!