Firm with disabled workforce urges different employers to ‘steal workers’

80% of the employees at Clarity & Co. have a disability or a long-term health condition (Image: Clarity & Co.)

A company with a largely disabled workforce combats workplace discrimination by encouraging other companies to poach its talented employees.

Approximately 100 Clarity & Co. employees – 80% – have a disability or long-term health. Many claim they were turned down by employers who “couldn’t cope” with their disabilities.

Government figures from 2017 showed that there were one million people with disabilities in the UK who wanted and could work but were not employed.

But Clarity – whose eco-friendly BECO bath and beauty products are available in stores like Waitrose and Sainsbury’s – says they are “living proof that disability is never, or should be, a barrier to economic success”.

The Steal Our Staff campaign, where BECO includes employees’ résumés on its product labels, aims to help fill the disability employment gap in the UK.

60-year-old BECO team leader Michael O’Brien was born with severe vision loss and thought his “life had collapsed” when he completely lost sight of his left eye at the age of 17.

After rehabilitation, he secured a job in the community – but thought he would never work again when he was fired from that role five years ago.

Companies with disabled workers

Michael O’Brien, 60, believed he would never work again until the company changed his life (Image: Clarity & Co.)

Michael, who could completely lose his sight at any time, battled depression when he lost his job, but credits Clarity for turning his life around when they hired him in 2014.

He told “I was devastated when my sight went. They operated twice and it wasn’t successful.

“They said, ‘Sorry, Mr. O’Brien, that’s it’. I said what?” They said, “That’s it”. I thought my life had collapsed. ‘

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“I try not to think that my eyesight could go away anytime, but without feeling sorry for myself, you might wake up one morning and not see, and that’s daunting.”

He continued, “After 35.5 years I was released and it was very daunting because of my age and disability. I didn’t think I’d be hired again.

“So I was in a bad place, depression did it. I wouldn’t go out, talk to anyone, do anything. ‘

“But then Clarity came and took me on board and they turned my life around. I am very passionate about the organization, what they did to support me, everything that they gave me. ‘

Trudy Frederick, 54, who has learning difficulties, says no one would hire her when she left college “because of my disability,” but also found her new home in the Clarity factory in 1988.

Companies with disabled workers

Trudy Frederick, 54, says no employer would hire her because of her learning disabilities (Image: Clarity & Co.)

Companies with disabled workers

The company says it is “living proof that disability is never an obstacle to economic success” (Image: Clarity & Co.)

She said, “Other employers have said ‘no’ because of my disability. They couldn’t stand that I was disabled, but I don’t find it a problem here. We accept it. ‘

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Andy Zneimer, 56, who works in communications at Clarity, said, “It is a very complex question why other employers find it difficult to take a risk – what they see as an opportunity – on people with disabilities.

“However, we are living proof that disability is never or should never be an obstacle to economic success. That is really the great strength of what we are showing other companies.

“Our Steal Our Staff campaign is about raising awareness among other employers in the UK, particularly that disabled people should be seen just like everyone else.”

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