If the recent furore surrounding proposed budget changes to the personal independence payment (PIP) has had one positive effect, it has been firmly positioning the needs of those with disabilities in the spotlight.
From an employment perspective, we as recruiters, in conjunction with the HR community, must take these into account if we are to effectively engage with the vast pool of disabled talent which is currently underutilised.
Earlier this year I attended a showcase event which celebrated the organisations that are making real progress in addressing the needs of disabled jobseekers. The speakers were winners of last year’s Recruitment Industry Disability (RIDI) Awards, of which I am proud to be involved with both as a judge and a member of the board.
My work with RIDI has led me to understand that, despite their best intentions, many employers, recruiters and HR professionals simply don’t know where to begin when it comes to becoming more inclusive to disabled talent – or are afraid of getting it ‘wrong’. However, by sharing best practice, it is easy to remove barriers in even the most high-pressured environments.
Now in their third year, the RIDI Awards celebrate the progress of organisations that are taking steps to improve the inclusion of disabled talent. Last year submissions across all categories increased by 44 per cent year-on-year, with entries received from not only large multi-nationals, but also smaller companies, public sector organisations and not-for-profit groups. This diversity in organisations getting involved is indicative of a shifting tide in attitudes towards disability across the employment spectrum, which is having an immediate and tangible effect on the outlook of disabled candidates. Last year’s winners demonstrated real progress in removing barriers, and their case studies show that they’re succeeding in becoming disability confident.
Speaking at the showcase event, Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People, highlighted the success that the current government has had in halving the disability employment gap, thanks, in part, to its Access to Work scheme which has received additional funding to cover an additional 25,000 places this year. However he stressed that the government cannot fulfil its goal to make a genuine marked difference in this area alone.
One theme that ran deep throughout last year’s award submissions, and indeed the event’s presentations, was collaboration. Without exception, each and every one of last year’s winners said that they were working in partnership with third parties to help achieve their objective of becoming more disability confident. Submissions were packed with references to supply chains, employers, charities, consultancies and government departments that entrants were engaging with to achieve their goals.
For example, human resources consultancy, Delsion, which was awarded the Disability Confident accolade, worked tirelessly, engaging with employer organisations including the BBC, the Department for Work and Pensions, Sainsbury’s and M&S, as well as UK Government and the CIPD to achieve its objective of positioning Swansea as the UK’s first Disability Confident employer city.
In the true spirit of collaboration, this emphasis on networks was extended to the submission process itself. For example, winner of the Agency Choice award, Remploy, was nominated by its sole recruitment supplier, Equal Approach, for the significant impact the organisation has as an employer and a service provider in delivering a barrier-free recruitment process. Speaking on the day, Equal Approach’s CEO and founder, Dawn Milman-Hurst stressed the fact that inclusive recruiters work best with inclusive employers while highlighting the importance of partnerships. This year, to reflect the strength of a collaboration in overcoming obstacles, RIDI has introduced a brand new category, Supply Chain Management, which is open to both employers and recruiters who are setting the standard and measuring the success of their own supply chains in recruiting disabled talent.
Many of last year’s successes in increasing inclusion came from a ‘back to basics’ approach. In his presentation, Graeme Whippy MBE, Senior manager at Lloyds Banking Group, explained how his organisation, which picked up the Most Progress award, removed known barriers by investing in technology changes, supply chain engagement, review of job descriptions and education for recruiters. Furthermore, disabled candidates are now guaranteed an interview. Similarly, Innovation in Assessment winner, social enterprise SEQOL, had simply replaced traditional interviews with a less formal assessment method to treble the number of job outcomes for disabled people. During the showcase, Simon Billington and Oriana Morrison, representatives from the organisation, explained how first impressions are formed in a blink of an eye. However, offering candidates with conditions such as autism work trials, they have the opportunity to prove their capabilities in the first person, without the barriers associated with traditional recruitment processes.
RIDI’s showcase was undoubtedly a celebration of the work and commitment from recruiters, employers and their expert partners to create a modern, inclusive and positive candidate experience for disabled jobseekers. While we still have a long way to go, it is within our collective power to access this rich and diverse talent pool.
As speaker Janet Hill CBE, Programme Director of Diversity & Inclusion at the Cabinet Office, succinctly put it on the day; ‘by changing attitudes, and changing behaviours, we can change lives’. And with a workforce close to full employment, the business benefits of encouraging more disabled people into work have never been more compelling.
The 2016 RIDI Awards opened for submissions on the 4th of April. The awards are free to enter and attend.
VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.
We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.