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A framework for developing employer’s disability confidence

Purpose: Many employers lack disability confidence regarding how to include people with disabilities in the workforce, which can lead to stigma and discrimination. The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of disability confidence from two perspectives, employers who hire people with a disability and employees with a disability. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative thematic analysis was conducted using 35 semi-structured interviews (18 employers who hire people with disabilities; 17 employees with a disability). Findings: Themes included the following categories: disability discomfort (i.e. lack of experience, stigma and discrimination); reaching beyond comfort zone (i.e. disability awareness training, business case, shared lived experiences); broadened perspectives (i.e. challenging stigma and stereotypes, minimizing bias and focusing on abilities); and disability confidence (i.e. supportive and inclusive culture and leading and modeling social change). The results highlight that disability confidence among employers is critical for enhancing the social inclusion of people with disabilities. Originality/value: The study addresses an important gap in the literature by developing a better understanding of the concept of disability from the perspectives of employers who hire people with disabilities and also employees with a disability.