Talent Not Disability
Inspired by my latest Podcast episode with the CEO of Evenbreak, Jane Hatton (a specialist job board for disabled candidates), I wanted to share the 3 top tips from our conversation on how to make your recruitment process more accessible for disabled candidates.
One of the biggest barriers to recruiting disabled candidates is that organisations don’t know how to do it or are scared of getting it wrong. There are organisations and websites out there to offer guidance and support, here are a few useful links:
Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative: www.ridi.org.uk
Disability confidence scheme:
How to make your recruitment processes more inclusive and accessible for disabled candidates.
First of all, organisations need to change how they look at disabled people and according to Jane Hatton, change the mindset of employing a disabled person from an act of charity to one of a smarter way to access key talent.
Employers need to realise that disabled candidates are premium candidates. They have the same diversity of skills, talent and qualities as able-bodied candidates. In addition, to which disabled candidates by virtue of their disability have had to be more innovative, creative, determined, resilient in their everyday life which are qualities any employer would find extremely desirable.
“We need to think about disabled job seekers as an untapped source of valuable talent and not a problem that needs to be solved”; comments Jane adding “Employing disabled people isn’t the problem, it’s the solution to the problem”.
2) Focus On The Talent Needed Not The Disability:
As I mentioned before one of the barriers to hiring disabled talent is that employers believe they need to be experts in hiring disabled staff and they focus too much on the disability side for fear of getting it wrong when they need simply to take a step back and focus on the skill they need to hire instead.
Organisations do not need to be experts. What is required is a willingness to have a conversation. Each disabled person is the expert in their own disability and will tell you what adjustments need to be made so that they can shine throughout the interview process and subsequent employment.
Jane comments that employers mustn’t prejudge what a candidate’s needs might be. “Just simply have a conversation that focuses on how they can help you shine at interview and then listen to the answer.”
3) Remove Barriers
The 3rd important point is to look at barriers in your organisation that could prevent you from hiring disabled candidates.
Look for barriers. Look at your recruitment processes, where and how do you advertise if that is your main channel to market. Are you looking at specialist job boards like Evenbreak, which is run by disabled employees for disabled candidates?
How accessible is your career site? Are there alternative ways to make applications, not just online?
How are you communicating to disabled candidates that you are fully committed to accessing their talent?
Unless organisations explicitly communicate via websites, social media platforms etc that they actively encourage and seek out applications from disabled job seekers, disabled candidates will automatically assume that an organisation is not interested; and whilst organisations might claim to be an equal opportunities employer, the reality is that this doesn’t offer any comfort to disabled candidates who fear their applications won’t be taken seriously or treated fairly once their protected characteristics are shared.
The onus is on employers to communicate externally that they are committed to hiring disabled talent. Organisations must work really hard to reassure candidates who have been traditionally excluded that they are interested in accessing their talent alone and are not interested in other protected characteristics that they might have. Once disabled candidates have been hired, they will be asked what environmental changes/adjustments need to be made so the employer can access their talent. Again, focus on the talent, not the disability.
There is still a long way to go to embed more accessible, diverse and inclusive recruitment processes and practices and each employer is on its own journey. The key message is that in an incredibly competitive candidate marketplace with skills shortages and lack of candidate supply at record levels, “employing disabled candidates isn’t the problem, it’s the solution”.
Cressida Stephenson is the Founder and Director of EdenChase Associates, a D&I Search Specialist.