EmployAbility Leisure is an industry-wide initiative, set to launch on Thursday 31 March. To mark the launch, Aspire will be releasing a set of three industry Guides to get more disabled people working in the fitness and leisure industry. 

Disabled people are often the last minority group to be considered when it comes to workforce diversity and equality.

It is now routine to look at issues such as the gender pay gap and racial diversity within organisations but why does this not commonly extend to disabled people? Maybe the negative attitudes and preconceived ideas of what disabled people can and can't do, also mean that their underrepresentation in the workforce isn't considered important.

When we start to recognise it as a problem, we can start to focus on addressing it, and this is exactly what Aspire is doing by releasing guidance for the whole leisure industry. The Guides will help disabled people consider training and career options in the sector, Guide B will help those delivering training and qualifications to ensure courses are fully accessible and the Guide C for employers will enable leisure and sporting organisations to consider how to create accessible job roles and inclusive workplaces.

The fitness and leisure industry has successfully widened its appeal beyond its muscle-man image of the past, and yet it still clings to so-called ‘aspirational’ images of bodies devoid of any impairment, albeit with gender and racial diversity . We can all improve our fitness but if you are disabled no workout will make you non-disabled, so 'aspirational' becomes 'impossible' for many and creates an industry that says, 'you have to look like this to fit in'.

However, the opposite is also true, if the industry has more disabled people represented within the workforce, then it opens out the sector to more people who want to participate but currently feel that they don’t fit. This can benefit individuals, improve business and lead to a more inclusive society.

Come back here on 31 March to hear what industry leaders have to say and to get a first glimpse of the new guidance.