Work inclusion of individuals with disability: The role of employers

The instability, precariousness, and insecurity that characterize today’s labour market render people with disability at higher risk of work inclusion, so much that the employment rate for individuals with disability is 20% lower than the 44% estimated for individuals without disability (Loisel & Anema, 2013).

Despite national policy imposes to companies to hire compulsorily workers with disability, the current economic crisis has ‘suspended’ this obligation causing a consequent slowdown in work inclusion process. In addition, individuals with disability are the ones who experience more disadvantages in the labor market, are frequently subjected to prejudice, especially by employers, and are perceived as less desirable employees than those without disability (Soresi, 2016). Therefore, practitioners interested in work inclusion cannot afford to disregard potential employer attitudes, and recognize factors affecting these attitudes (McManus, Feyes, & Saucier, 2010).

Recently, Nota, Santilli, Ginevra, and Soresi (2014), involved 80 employers and found that employers’ attitudes were more negative towards people with psychological problems compared to candidates with intellectual or sensory disability. Moreover, they observed that, regardless of the type of disability, a description that emphasized candidate’s strengths and appropriate behaviors in previous work experiences was associated with more positive employer attitudes, as compared to descriptions that focused mainly on disability. These results, in line with ICF (World Health Organization, 2003), are crucial because they allow to underscore what people with disability could actually do and not their deficit. This approach could increase their levels of participation, the inclusion into their communities and their quality of life.

This study, published in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities (volume 27). inspired Dr. Nova Sekhon, who works at Stenberg College on the marketing team, to consider the employers’ attitudes in training businesses and increase the recruitment of people with disability. The positive presentation of candidate’s with disability contributed to a more open environment for hiring a woman of 42 years old with developmental disabilities and facilitating her participation to social and work life (see the report)



  • Loisel, P. & Anema, J. R. (2013). Handbook of work disability, prevention and management. New York: Springer.
  • McManus, J. L., Feyes, K. I. & Saucier, D. A. (2010) Contact and knowledge as predictors of attitudes toward individuals with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 28, 579-590.
  • Nota, L., Santilli, S., Ginevra, M. C., & Soresi, S. (2014). Employer attitudes towards the work inclusion of people with disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 27, 511-520.
  • World Health Organization (2013). How to use the ICF: A practical manual for using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Geneve: OMS
  • Soresi, S. (2016) (Ed.). Psicologia delle disabilità e dell’inclusione [Psychology of disability and inclusion]. Bologna: Il Mulino.