Where will Covid leave the PR sector’s already tiny disabled community?

Old green typewriter on a desk with a sheet of white paper. Quarantine is typed in black ink on the paper

A new survey from Global Disability Inclusion is a stark warning about the impact of Covid19 on the jobs of disabled people with a huge 51% expected to lose their jobs in the next 60 days. 

The 11 page study looks at the financial impact, job security, skills and the different industries affected. What’s striking is the lack of certainty felt by disabled people that they will be kept on in their present roles. 

It speaks to a larger issue of the culture and way in which we treat disabled employees and how they feel about the organisations they work for. Our disabled employees expect to be the first to go. They have little faith in the organisations they work for.

Whilst the study from is US focused and shows that disabled people have twice the rate of unemployment than non-disabled people, the UK stats aren’t much more encouraging. The disability employment gap currently stands at 28%. 

In the PR industry we are already behind in representation of disabled people working in our agencies and teams and as independent consultants – between 4% and 6% depending on which research you read – and it’s a stat which has barely changed in the last few years. Yet, 19% of the working population has a disability

Add to this that PR is potentially facing a huge number of redundancies, and if what’s predicted actually happens there is a real risk that we will lose the few disabled practitioners who are employed, taking us back to pre-2010 levels. 

With stories circling in the likes of Forbes about the cuts to D&I budgets in corporations and sectors including tech – it casts dark shadows over what future disabled PR practitioners are facing. Often on the fringes and lower down on the hierarchy of diversity, hiring and nurturing disabled talent is already an uphill battle – and that’s with diversity champions in place and organisations like Scope supporting both employers and employees. 

As we face up to whatever the next few months or years bring us we must ensure our disabled PR peers whether agency, inhouse or freelance, are not frozen out and that we don’t close the doors on those with disabilities seeking a career in our industry.

The full report from Global Disability Inclusion can be downloaded from this link:


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