Australia’s peak body for workplace inclusivity has ranked Coles Group number one out of 26 organisations for its commitment to the recruitment and selection of people living with disabilities in the Access and Inclusion Index 2021.
The Australian Network on Disability announced the winners of its inaugural Disability Confidence Awards last night, shining a light on organisations that have made systemic changes to their workplaces to become inclusive of employees and customers with a disability.
Coles Group was recognised for continuing to develop momentum and implement new initiatives to improve access and inclusion for people with disability, ranking in third place in the Access and Inclusion Index 2021 overall, up from eighth position in 2019.
“This impressive result for Coles jumping up five places on the Index in two years demonstrates it’s committed to removing barriers that prevent people with disability from finding employment,” says Australian Network on Disability Chief Executive Officer Corene Strauss.
“Coles shows strong leadership across all areas of inclusiveness as evidenced by a well-developed Accessibility Steering Committee structure and an established disability employee network.”
Focus on inclusiveness
The result comes after Coles has embedded inclusion recruitment specialists in its Talent Acquisition team, increasing the number of people it employed with a disability this financial year by 1011, compared to an increase of 281 at the same time last year.
Coles has also been actively seeking applications from candidates with a disability and making adjustments to allow candidates with disability to perform at their best.
Coles Group Chief Market Officer and Co-Chair of the Accessibility Committee Lisa Ronson says the retailer aims to foster a safe, inclusive and diverse workplace that is reflective of the community and customers it serves.
“These incredible team members have so much skill and knowledge to share in our workplace. They teach us about how we can make Coles more inclusive for our team, our customers and suppliers living with disabilities,” says Ms Ronson.
Improving employment opportunities
More than 2 million Australians of working age have a disability however only 48% of these people are employed, according to the Australian Network on Disability.
The unemployment rate for people with disability has risen from 8% in 2003 to 10% in 2018, more than double the unemployment rate among people without a disability.
According to the Disability Royal Commission, Australia has one of the lowest employment rates for people with a disability in the OECD.
The Australian Network on Disability, which has more than 370 member organisations, helps businesses and governments to improve access and inclusivity in the workplace.