Understanding and improving disability recruitment practices

In this blog we highlight concern over the reality of disability recruitment and share advice for improving your approach to it.

The topic of disability inclusion in recruitment is a common concern affecting all levels of disability in the workplace. In 2020, there were 400,000 unemployed disabled people, 76,000 more than in 2019.

In terms of education, fewer disabled people are completing university education or any qualifications, in comparison to their non-disabled counterparts. Despite this, many of you who are reading this will have some sort of inclusion and diversity plan or strategy in place to welcome everyone.

So the question is, why is there a gap? What can businesses do to help employees with disabilities and impairments succeed in the workplace? Continue reading to learn more.

Embedding the social model of disability

Historically, societies have supported the medical model of disability. This emphasises the disability or impairment itself. In general, this means that something needs to be “fixed,” which leads to differences in groups and, ultimately, exclusion.

It is critical that we shift the focus of the disability social model. By doing so, we can recognise and comprehend that any barriers encountered by disabled people are not the result of their disability or impairment, but rather a result of how our society is not designed to support different groups of people. This is our collective failure, not theirs.

How you can improve your disability hiring process

Recruitment is a broad process that can be hampered by bias, time constraints, and a lack of resources.

We sometimes recruit in a hurry. Especially when we need to fill the space and need results right away. This reactive approach to hiring is unlikely to include a group of people who have previously been overlooked.

Here are some suggestions for what organisations can do to improve the process of recruiting people with disabilities.

Build the case to fill a gap

In the workplace, disability and neurodiversity are vastly underrepresented. We see neurodiversity as a true competitive advantage for organisations, bringing skills and capabilities that others lack.

We as employers are missing out on lived experiences and a different perspective by ignoring the potential of these communities.

Cast a wider net

Investigate where you are attracting talent and see if you can expand this pool. Consider looking locally, as well as at specific job boards and support groups.

Make sure your website, job descriptions, and online presence are all accessible to people with different needs.

Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments must be made on time, centrally, and clearly, and the expectation should not be on disabled people. Make it very clear what reasonable adjustments are available, as this can help to put people at ease.

For example, if an employee is told, “If you have reasonable adjustment requirements, please let us know,” make sure it is more than just words on a piece of paper and that it is followed through on.

Always ask the candidate what they require – after all, they are the experts. However, it is also critical that you are prepared with a list of possible solutions.

Flip the script on traditional interviews

Interviews are a great way to learn more about someone, but how we conduct them needs to change. Many employers nowadays place far too much emphasis on things that aren’t all that important. For instance, concentrating on eye contact and eloquence.

Interviews can be stressful situations for many people, so take some time and think about what might help the applicant.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you need to offer more time?
  • Is the applicant clear on expectations, such as the outline and questions ahead of the interview?
  • Are you going to give them feedback in an appropriate amount of time?
  • Does the applicant need a representative or have additional communication requirements?

Broaden your understanding of disability

Typical representation of disabled people tends to be wheelchair users. However, there are numerous types of disabilities and impairments that all necessitate varying levels of assistance, including and beyond wheelchair users.

The requirements of candidates for the interview process will differ from person to person. The more you understand about the various types of adjustments that are available, whether you are in HR, a hiring manager, or a recruiter, the more likely you are to create a great candidate experience for disabled people.

Show people they belong in your business

Many neurodiverse employees have told us, “I knew this was the place I wanted to work from the moment I read the job description, because of the language in it.”

Disability representation and inclusion doesn’t just mean pictures of wheelchair users on your website. It is all about the message as a whole, from your terminology and language to your processes.

The benefits of hiring disabled employees

Recruiting disabled employees has numerous benefits. Firstly, it is important to note that all disabled people should receive the same opportunities as everyone else.

Here are some of the many benefits to hiring disabled employees:

An improved culture

By rightfully providing opportunities to disabled people, you are adding a variety of highly motivated professionals to a team. By welcoming disabled employees into your company, you are providing equal opportunities and creating a more inclusive space.

Variety of talent

No two people are the same. By providing disabled people with equal opportunities and opening doors for your company, you are immediately gaining access to a wider talent pool.

There are over 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, if you are not supporting and recruiting disabled candidates, you are missing out on a huge amount of people that could be the most qualified for your roles.

Final thoughts

Disability discrimination recruitment needs to stop. To amplify the voices of those who have lived their experiences, we must first get them through the door. It’s time to close the disability employment gap, and we can all help make that happen.

Please click here to download our disability package for our members. To learn more about how we can assist you with your disability inclusion work and training, please contact us by clicking here.