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Fitting the pieces together

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To enable your organisation to develop a diverse workforce there are a number of strategies which can encourage applications from disabled candidates. A broad view of recruitment needs to be taken in order to ensure that you are successful in recruiting the right person for the right job.

A comprehensive summary for employers recruiting and supporting disabled people in work can be found here

Some simple considerations are discussed below. For further detailed information, visit the links to appropriate websites at the bottom of this page.


Prior to the Recruitment Process

The development of a thorough diversity policy, which includes disabled people, can help ensure your organisation does not discriminate against prospective (as well as current) employees. This should be implemented throughout the organisation and will provide the perfect starting block for a more holistic – or complete – recruitment process. There are local and national services which can provide guidance and advice pertaining to the development of such policies, but below are some points to consider:

Advertising

Some points for you to consider when advertising available positions:

Applications

Most application forms will ask if an applicant has an impairment or disability. Such a question provides the opportunity for an individual to request any reasonable adjustments for the employer to make during the selection process.

It is important to remember, however, that some individuals may not wish to disclose the fact that they have a disability for fear of discrimination, whereas others may simply not perceive themselves as having disability.

If your application process uses a different format,  for example CV or online application, it may well be worth considering how you could offer the opportunity for a disabled applicant to comfortably disclose this fact.

For example, your advert could include an invitation such as “Please indicate in your covering letter any requirements you may have, if called for an interview”.  An applicant without a disability would typically not answer this with an unreasonable or facetious request – if they answer it at all – whereas a disabled individual might view this as a genuine opportunity to, for example, request a room which is large/accessible enough to comfortably accommodate a wheelchair; or to ask for a visual aid to assist them to use a monitor during an interview.  However, as the question is general and not explicit with regards to an answer, they would also not necessarily feel singled out because of their disability.

Interviews and Selection

It is important to ensure that your recruitment and employment practices maximise the opportunity to attract and retain disabled employees, as well as complying with the law.  Prior to short-listing you should provide an opportunity for applicants to request any reasonable adjustments required during the interview (you may have already done this if you adopted a similar approach to that suggested above in “Applications”).  This ensures that you remove any barriers which disabled applicants may face. Contacting an applicant – or their support worker – to discuss an interview will ensure that you are aware of any necessary adjustments. In addition, you may wish to consider:

It can be very useful to allow the individual to guide you through their qualities – and their limitations – as they will know their needs better than anyone else.  This will help you to establish whether the person will require minor changes to be made to the job specification itself or “reasonable adjustments” to be made to their working environment.

It is very important to remember, however, that not every applicant who has an impairment will require such changes/adjustments to be made.

During the interview process, try not to make assumptions about an individual’s ability to perform certain tasks; focus on the applicant’s skills and capabilities rather than their disability.  Asking about a disability should only be done in relation to the effect it may have on someone’s ability to do the job for which they are applying.  If you do employ a disabled person, their terms and conditions should not differ to those of other employees. Use the same personal development procedures for employees with disabilities as for other employees, making reasonable adjustments as required.

If approached with an open mind, employing a disabled people need not provide you with complex challenges; instead, it is an opportunity to take on a capable, loyal and hard working employee who is equally as valuable as their colleagues.


Useful Links

Further sources of comprehensive information and guidance:

Business Disability Forum

Equality & Human Rights Commission

Mindful Employer -  supports employers to support mental well-being at work.