Disabled workers are hiding their conditions in the workplace over fear for their career progression.
Research from Samsung UK found 45% of workers with disabilities have concealed their conditions to increase their chance of securing a promotion.
A further 40% said they feel their colleagues valued them less after learning of their disability.
Tamas Csejtei, people team director for the UK and Ireland at Samsung Electronics, said wider social stigma is working against disabled employees.
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Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Despite one in five people experiencing some form of disability, through our research, we’ve uncovered that there are still numerous stigmas that exist in the workplace.
“Almost half of the nation feels uncomfortable with the terminologies around disability, resulting in a taboo culture.”
Melania Santoro, portfolio director for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at engineering firm Arcadis, said that companies should be working harder to create inclusive working environments.
She told HR magazine: “It is important to create an environment where people are comfortable being themselves, whether they disclose a disability or not. We need to be mindful that we have colleagues who might not have a visible disability, or they may not have been given a diagnosis yet.”
Santoro suggested there may be different ways to create a safe space for disclosure so disabled workers feel comfortable to disclose.
She said: “Create an alternative reporting pathway to a line manager or HR with a third party to offer a psychologically safe space to share issues, get support and advice. More than that, these bodies can also intervene on behalf of the employee to get reasonable adjustments in place.”
Getting into the office building was a challenge for 29% of disabled workers surveyed, with bathroom access a challenge for 30%.
Disabled workers are also being punished by their pensions.
Research from pension trust Now:Pensions found that disabled workers have on average just 36% of the pension pot of the average worker.
Out of the estimated four million disabled workers across the UK, only 54% are saving into a pension fund.