Diverse approaches to promoting disability inclusive employment aim to transform workplaces into truly inclusive environments, usually with intervention strategies targeting two main groups: employers and jobseekers with disabilities. However, they do not always consider other relevant stakeholders or address the relationships and interactions between diverse actors in the wider social ecosystem.
These approaches often neglect deeper ‘vexing’ difficulties which block progress towards disability inclusive work environments. Most interventions rightly embrace hegemonic ‘social models of disability’ and use human rights arguments but may neglect entrenched structural factors. Disability inclusive employment is complex, with unaddressed invisible aspects that continue to limit progress. We explore some key relevant disability concepts and then interrogate evidence from the ‘Inclusion Works’ programme working in four middle- and low-income countries, considering some intractable barriers underlying the slow movement towards inclusive employment. Finally, we propose that a more participatory action orientated approach involving disabled people and others is needed to both generate deeper understanding and provide pathways towards new solutions to obstinate problems through progressive action learning processes in context. Programmatic interventions that work across the levels of the ecosystem and address power relations and interactions between stakeholders could lead to more substantial forms of disability inclusive employment.