Are our teams and workplaces geared towards disability?

Real estate has been in the thick of social change, tackling vital issues such as diversity and inclusion. But while significant progress has been made towards equality in terms of gender, race and sexual orientation, another area to raise is for disability.

Most companies believe they prioritise diversity across their recruitment efforts; however, only a small percentage actually do.

Disability inclusion is more than just about hiring an individual with a disability. An inclusive workplace values all workers for their skills and strengths, offering an equal opportunity to learn, be fairly compensated and above all, succeed.

Positively seeking to attract applications from people with disabilities broadens the talent pool of skilled workers, brings in fresh ideas and helps the company perform better.

Around 20% of the working population live with a disability, whether visible or invisible. This represents a market size equivalent to Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and the US combined.

The chances are you will come across someone in our industry with a disability at some point. Employing talented real estate professionals, understanding disability, and being proactive towards customers with disabilities can be rewarding.

Disability in real estate

Disability inclusion is a critical part of real estate. For clients, accessible properties are fundamental to independent living, and those in real estate design and development have to work on projects with disability accessibility.

Around one in four adults are living with some form of disability. Candidates with disabilities represent a substantial talent pool, however, despite their eagerness to work, people with disabilities are employed at a lower rate than their non-disabled counterparts.

Success with disability inclusion can make all the difference in attracting and retaining the best and most qualified talent for companies. If real estate candidates face barricades during their job hunting, application or interview process or feel that a company is not inclusive, they will likely go elsewhere. Robust disability inclusion initiatives lead to better access to real estate talent and higher staff retention rates.

Workplace adjustments

Companies have legal obligations to make reasonable workplace adjustments to meet their employees’ needs. Diversity and inclusion are imperative for businesses that want to attract top talent. The industry must have a diverse and inclusive workforce representing the communities it serves. While there are efforts across our industry to cater to real estate professionals with disabilities, many improvements can still be made.

Inclusivity and accessibility must extend beyond real estate recruitment processes if our industry is to develop and grow talent. This could be anything from providing modified equipment to training, mentoring and introducing adapted emergency evacuation procedures.

There are plenty of ways to improve disability inclusion, from real estate recruitment to creating accessible workplaces. The costs of making simple adjustments to accommodate those with disabilities are often low and outweighed by the considerable benefits of retaining skilled and experienced real estate professionals.

Jeremy Wright

Director, UK

By increasing disability awareness and utilising the adaptive technology available, companies are increasingly overcoming the reservations they've previously had regarding the employment of people with disabilities.

Creating accessible workplaces

People with disabilities need to feel comfortable with and included in their physical working space. Office design must take this into account.

Disability awareness training

All areas of our industry should be rolling out disability awareness training to employees of all levels, especially at senior and C-suite levels.

Assistive technologies

Technology is the backbone of our industry, and this should naturally lead to more availability of assistive technologies. For example, text-to-speech should be a core employee tool. With the help of computer screen-reading devices, employees can bring in new business, organise maintenance work, draw up and sign leases, and speak to clients, landlords and tenants.

Real estate disability access

Shift in attitudes

Across the industry, companies have launched a wide range of policies and initiatives to increase diversity and balance, including mentoring, flexible working, unconscious bias training and return-to-work programmes.


  • Commitment: There must be a commitment from the entire workforce, led by a dedicated team, to put this commitment into action, to ensure it’s more than just window-dressing.
  • Leadership: Leadership engagement is vital for driving any change. It’s down to the leadership to set the tone, inspire and be available for support.
  • Reflective: Reflecting on your disability inclusion initiatives will show what industry and company-specific challenges there are and what needs to be worked on.


Workplace diversity improves the performance, productivity and wellbeing of both individual companies and our industry as a whole. By increasing disability awareness and utilising the adaptive technology available, companies within our industry are increasingly overcoming the concerns they’ve previously had regarding the employment of people with disabilities.

After all, inclusion creates a supportive, collaborative and respectful environment that increases the contribution and participation of all employees. People trust those organisations that actively reflect the diversity of the customers they serve, the people they lead and the diverse communities they are rooted in.

Macdonald & Company is committed to equality of opportunity in employment and service delivery and will provide equal opportunities to any job applicant and will not discriminate either directly or indirectly because of race, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, religion or belief, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, or pregnancy and maternity.

To find out more about how we work within our diversity and inclusion policy, contact your nearest office.

Subscribe to RE:MAIL

Everything real estate to learn, collaborate and connect. Sign up for your monthly roundup of industry news, insights, career podcasts with industry leaders and more.