How can you successfully manage the needs of disabled talent in the workplace? Kate Headley, spokesperson for the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI), provides some insight.
One in eight people in the UK consider themselves to have a disability – that’s over 11 million people. However, the needs of this talent pool – particularly those with ‘non-visible’ conditions such as diabetes, anxiety or epilepsy – are often unintentionally misunderstood by employers.
While the benefits of a diverse workforce are now almost universally recognised and understood, the fact remains that many managers, due to no fault of their own, may be unaware of conditions that those in their team live with.
In fact, according to recent research, up to 90% of disabled jobseekers would not disclose their disability during the recruitment process.
Consequently, unless managers become more confident in embracing the topic of disability, they risk not only breaching the 2010 Equality Act, but also failing to get the most from their team.
We have to begin by understanding what ‘disability’ means – that is, a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. It is worth noting that only one in eight disabled people use a wheelchair and a disability does not necessarily mean that a person will need constant attention, or an employer will need to make monumental changes to facilitate them. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive, disabled people take less days off sick and have fewer accidents in the workplace.
In order to become more confident on disability, employers must first make the case for change. Whatever the reason – whether it be a fear of breaking the law or a need to widen your current talent pool in an increasing competitive market – your team need to know why employing disabled people is relevant to your organisation, clients and other stakeholders. This exercise also has the added benefit of offering existing employees a cue to speak out about any as-yet undisclosed disabilities.
While only 1 in 8 people with a disability use a wheelchair, access to offices is still an issue.
Next get back to basics and review each stage of the recruitment process – from job adverts to on-boarding – and strip it down. A shortlist index works well; have a list of attributes you’re looking for and tick them off if you find them. Don’t over-complicate things, the simpler the better.
Furthermore, it is essential that any recruiters you work with – whether in house or agency – are also confident on disability. There is a myriad of advice out there – take advantage of it to ensure they know what questions to ask and when. By understanding the needs of your employees from day one, you can offer them the support they need to find their own solutions to workplace challenges – which will have a positive impact on attrition long-term.
Finally, make reasonable adjustments. Be sure of what adjustments you should make, when these will need to be put in place, and how they will be funded.
While the Government’s Access to Work fund may be able to help employers cover costs of disabilities that might be a barrier to work, many disabled people may need nothing more than a little understanding. For example, an employee with a bowel condition may need slightly longer comfort breaks. Similarly, a person with diabetes could need privacy several times a day to administer their insulin.
There are an infinite number of small adjustments you may need to make to attract and retain your best people – it’s just up to you to ask the question.
With the ‘war for talent’ raging, widening your talent pool to become more inclusive to disabled professionals could be the catalyst you need to source the talent to take your business to the next level. And the key to seeking out disabled talent lies in collaboration – if you work in partnership with trusted and disability confident suppliers, disabled people will apply.
Single-handedly changing company culture to become more inclusive to disabled talent may sound like a daunting task. However the small, easily implemented changes in process that I have outlined above will have a ripple effect which will benefit not only existing employees, but also future talent and your ability to compete for business and future profitability.
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.