Royal Academy of Engineering marks World Disability Day 2019 

The Academy marks World Disability Day on 3 December (known formally as United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities), as means to acknowledge the barriers faced by disabled engineers and showcase Academy toolkits and resources to engineering organisations to help reduce these barriers and increase diversity and inclusion.

“ To promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.”

United Nations resolution establishing World Disability Day, 1992

Loraine Martins (Network Rail) on being a disability ally.


Why focus on disability? 

The Academy’s detailed analysis following the Creating Cultures where all engineers thrive
report found that disabled engineers were:

  • More than twice as likely to have experienced bullying or harassment than their non-disabled colleagues (27% vs 13%)
  • 12% less likely to feel ‘quite’ or ‘very’ included than their non-disabled colleagues
  • 13% less clear about what they need to do to progress their career than their non-disabled colleagues
  • 21% reported planning to leave the profession, or were undecided about doing so for reasons other than retirement, within the next 12 months, compared to those without a disability (13%).



More widely, a TUC report on disability employment and pay gaps showed an employment gap of 30%. Disabled people are less likely to have a paid job and when they do they earn substantially less than their non-disabled peers.



How can engineering organisations increase inclusion for disabled workers? 

The priorities for action by engineering employers and the profession as a whole to create a culture where disabled engineers thrive are:

  • To increase leadership and management awareness and capability on disability
  • To ensure career support and talent progression processes are fair, accessible and free of bias against disabled engineers
  • To do more to challenge bullying and harassment and isolation of disabled engineers in the profession

Andy Bowen (Wood) on being a disability ally


Explore tools and resources

  • An Inclusive Recruitment Toolkit, developed in partnership with engineering employers to support more inclusive recruitment practices with a focus on culture, foundations, attraction and talent sourcing, selection and assessment, and retention, giving examples of best practice
  • A Diversity and inclusion measurement in engineering framework to help organisations to take evidence-based action to increase D&I, and to monitor and report progress. The 16 measures provide a framework to drive cultural and behavioral change in leadership, attraction and recruitment, retention and progression through leaders, managers and HR


What is the Academy doing to mark World Disability Day?

  • The Academy is encouraging more people to become Majority Allies and combat barriers to inclusion.
  • Internally, the Royal Academy of Engineering organised a disability workshop which focused on delivering accessible events and building inclusive workplaces. The Academy also launched its workplace adjustment passport.
  • The Academy is a Disability Confident Employer.