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There is a strong push in New Zealand for all employers to become disability confident organisations. This means that your organisation has inclusive policies and practices in place. It also involves working towards a diverse, safe and representative workforce. Likewise, your business must recognise the ability and potential of people with disabilities and what they can offer your business. There are a variety of benefits to being a disability confident organisation.

This article will explain what a disability confident organisation is, what the value might be for your business, and set out five quick steps to achieving this goal

What Is a Disability Confident Organisation?

Being a disability confident organisation goes far beyond a surface-level commitment to inclusion and diversity. There are various ways organisations can reform themselves and their practices to become disability confident. This can involve reforming the business itself (such as the treatment and recruitment of employees) and externally (such as customers).

Being a disability confident organisation includes:

  • having employees who understand disability and know what people with disabilities can do;
  • putting inclusive policies, plans and practices in place for people with disabilities;
  • addressing barriers to employment and promotion for people with disabilities; and
  • thinking about the needs of people with disability when designing products and services.

The Value Of Being A Disability Confident Business

Becoming a disability confident organisation can have many valuable benefits. Firstly, your business will play a role in ensuring that disabled people are no longer isolated or seen as ‘special’ and recognising that they play an important part in society’s diversity. Being disability confident also promotes equal employment. However, aside from the ethical or moral goods, there are other financial and strategic benefits for your business. 

For instance, disability confident organisations have better access to a motivated talent pool. On average, people with disabilities take fewer days off, less sick leave and stay in their job longer than other workers. They also have better access to a diverse customer base and can appeal to investors with corporate social responsibility and sustainability interests. Your business may also benefit from significant cost savings and productivity gains through more efficient recruitment and employment processes. 

Further, flexible management lets disabled and older people contribute to a greater extent. Many of the adjustments your business might make for disabled people are also needed or benefit other employees. Therefore, adopting more flexible employment practices can help your entire workforce.

Five Steps to Becoming a Disability Confident Organisation

The Employers Disability Network has developed five preliminary steps to help businesses become disability confident organisations.  

1. Get Buy-in From Senior Management

Firstly, it is essential to identify the rationale for being disability confident. Next, ensure that your organisation’s senior management and board understand this rationale and that your team is on the same page. This may involve creating a business case for becoming a disability confident organisation.

2. Assess Your Business’ Journey Towards Becoming Disability Confident

The Employers Disability Network has developed an Employment Charter to outline what a best practice disability confident organisation looks like. You should compare your organisation to these practices, survey staff to gather other perspectives, and identify areas that may need work.

3. Develop an Action Plan

This may involve developing plans around:

  • accessibility; 
  • disability awareness in your business and workforce; 
  • recruitment practices;
  • possible accommodation options for people with disabilities; and 
  • other types of actions to ensure your business is inclusive across the board. 

4. Access More Resources

You can talk to the Employers Disability Network, the government’s Employment New Zealand organisation or a range of other support organisations to obtain assistance. There are a variety of resources online. 

5. Re-Assess on a Regular Basis

The Employers Disability Network recommends reassessing your business’ progress towards its goals and action plan every year at the least. This may involve further discussions or surveys within your organisation to ascertain progress. 

Key Takeaways 

A disability confident organisation is an organisation that understands and recognises people with disabilities and what they can offer. This covers areas from physical accommodations in your office building to inclusive practices in recruitment and product design.

Likewise, the value of becoming a disability confident is significant. While becoming disability confident is an inherent positive for any organisation, there are also business and financial benefits to doing so. The Employers Disability Network has developed a five-step plan for any business to begin the process of becoming more disability confident. 

If you have any questions about disability confident organisations, contact LegalVision’s New Zealand employment lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.


What is a disability confident organisation?

A disability confident organisation refers to an organisation with inclusive policies and practices, is working towards a diverse and representative workforce, and recognises the ability and potential of people with disabilities and what they can offer the business.

What are the benefits of being a disability confident organisation?

There is a range of benefits to being a disability confident organisation. Becoming a more inclusive and diverse employer and business is positive in itself, but also offers opportunities through a greater employee and customer pool, cost savings and productivity gains. 

How does an organisation become a disability confident organisation?

There are various ways to start the process of becoming more disability confident. A typical starting point is to get the senior leadership behind a business case for becoming disability confident, and surveying the status quo to see what areas in the business could use some work. 

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