How can HR be more inclusive when it comes to meeting the needs of disabled jobseekers? Kate Headley, director of consulting at Clear Company, explains.
According to new figures, around one in three disabled jobseekers has been discriminated against during the recruitment process. This suggests that while diversity in the workplace is making significant headway in terms of gender, race and sexual orientation, we could be doing more to increase the inclusion of disabled jobseekers. But how do we achieve this?
The research, commissioned by the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI), found that 82% of disabled candidates have reported a negative experience with a recruitment consultancy, which they attribute to a lack of knowledge surrounding disability issues. There is also a wide disparity between the perceptions of candidates and employers in terms of the provision of ‘reasonable adjustments’ made to accommodate disabled jobseekers – a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010. Despite the fact that 82% of employers claim reasonable adjustments are made to cater for disabled jobseekers, 58% of those candidates say that no such adjustments were made.
What can HR do to help?
Maybe HR and recruitment professionals are afraid of getting it ‘wrong’, or simply don’t have the knowledge and awareness to manage the appointment of disabled people adequately. However when around 11 million people in the UK are living with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability, HR as a profession simply can’t afford to ignore this vast sea of talent. It appears that there is still a knowledge- gap in awareness amongst HR and recruitment professionals which is unconsciously affecting the hiring of disabled people.
So where do we start? Small changes in the way that we on-board talent can make a significant difference. Conscious and unconscious bias can exist at every stage of the recruitment journey, and we need to look at processes with fresh eyes if we are to adapt them accordingly. For example, a job specification may ask for a full UK Driving Licence, even if it is not necessary for the role – but this may automatically eliminate candidates with epilepsy, or those who are registered blind.
Likewise, a deaf candidate will fall at the first hurdle if the person arranging the appointment insists on communicating by phone. Consequently, the best person for the role may never get into the recruitment pipeline – certainly a fact worth considering. However, despite these examples, there are some inspiring instances of companies that are pioneering the inclusion of disabled people and we can certainly learn from their experiences.
The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) Awards celebrate progress and recognise the success of these organisations. Last year the Awards attracted over 100 applications across award categories including Innovation in Assessment, Inclusive Partnerships, Employers Choice and Overall Candidate Experience. Previous winners include E:ON, the BBC, Sainsbury’s and Eversheds in partnership with Guidant Group, as well as many smaller employers and recruiters. It’s hoped that by learning from companies that are doing it ‘right’, we can all improve the attraction of disabled talent in the future. I’m sure that this year’s winners will inspire other organisations to focus on their own strategies to boost the diversity of talent.