Recruiting inclusively - focus on people with disabilities

Posted 12.12.2020

International Day of Persons with Disabilities took place on 3rd December 2020.  This event helped to raise awareness of inequities in the work force and encouraged us all to become more compassionate and understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Throughout the year, Stakeholder Managers have worked to draw the attention of employers to the need to recruit inclusively, not only is it the right thing to do but it enrichens the workforce and raises productivity.   Still, the variance in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people remains unacceptably high.  Through inclusive recruitment events (our Recruiting Talent series) Stakeholder Managers continue to drive a better dialogue and understanding of disability issues, including flexible working arrangements, positive language, and supportive organisational cultures.

Recruiting Talent activity works as it helps to make employers aware of the lost opportunities each time they overlook the unique experience, insight, and talent that people with disabilities offer.

Leonard Cheshire has recently published a report entitled Locked out of the Labour Market, which examines the impacts of Covid-19 on disabled adults wishing to access meaningful employment opportunities. The report highlights how disabled people have been disproportionately affected by both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Within the workplace, disabled people have been more acutely affected by reduced hours and lost income, as well as reporting greater risks of redundancy. A key recommendation is the need for any economic recovery plans developed by the government to explicitly address issues around inclusivity and accessibility.

Seven steps to inclusive recruitment and diverse teams

  1. Write inclusive job descriptions
  • Focus on the job description – define as clearly as possible what the job role is and the skills it requires and check if someone outside your organisation easily understands what is needed (keep it jargon free).
  • All organisations develop their own language (jargon); it is part of the world you operate in every day. While this may make sense to everyone already working in your industry or sector, if you want to attract people who are different to the status quo, they need to understand what is expected from the get-go – not be left confused by unnecessary jargon. Consider running your wording past someone outside your company to see if they understand what you are looking for.
  • Make sure the criteria you set are clear and reflect the skills and competencies needed to do the job.
  1. Widen your search to include diverse groups and pools of talent
  • Job advertisement. Think about where the position is being advertised and check if consideration is given to different groups who may want to apply.
  • We recently heard a story of someone who had questioned why their organisation was not employing more people with a certain protected characteristic. The response? “They don’t apply.” Instead of blaming the applicants, this organisation could have seriously considered whether they were advertising their roles in the right places
  • To recruit inclusively and attract the best talent we need to get the word out via promoted social media posts, or through the various networking groups and membership societies that work with under-represented groups.
  1. Inclusively design the application process
  • Think about how easy you can make it for a diverse range of job applicants to apply. Check that the messages and instructions displayed throughout the application form-filling process are friendly and inclusive, not overly formal, and punitive. Design the application process in a way that does not confuse or frustrate applicants.
  1. Make shortlisting fair
  • If the job description and selection criteria was clear, shortlisting should be easy and straightforward. It’s best practice to have at least two people shortlisting in a formal meeting setting, they can then actively challenge any assumptions made by the other.
  • Assessing CVs without including any personal information is also effective at removing any bias against diverse applicants. This involves getting a person not involved in the shortlisting process to make sure the panel does not see names, schools, locations, and date of birth, ensuring assessors’ decisions only account for the skills and experience of the candidate – the things that matter.
  1. Allow for reasonable adjustments at interview
  • Check whether the interviewee needs any reasonable adjustments, then remember to make them and communicate them to the candidate, ahead of time.
  • This is not just good practice; there are instances of tribunals when applicants have won their case based on the inadequacy of the arrangements made.
  1. Prepare for an inclusive interview
  • The more preparation you do for the interview, the less the danger of making a biased decision and the greater the chance that you will make an evidence-based decision because you know exactly what you are looking for and how to elicit the information you need.
  • Preparation involves agreeing in advance the individual roles of your panel members; the questions you will be asking; how you will score each applicant’s answers; whether you will be asking supplementary questions; the potential impact of unconscious bias (link).
  • Your planning will give you the time you need to concentrate on the things that really matter during the interview: setting the right tone, finding the best means for candidates to demonstrate their capabilities, asking questions, listening, writing notes.
  1. Inclusive interviews: set the right tone, ask the right questions
  • Part of setting the right interview tone is to have as diverse an interview panel as possible. This is a chance to demonstrate that you are a diverse organisation – right there in the room – reassuring candidates that you employ people like them.

Top Tips:

  • Test the technology and that it works for both candidate and panel, ideally sometime in advance of the interview
  • Check whether the candidate can hear you
  • Make sure you make any online reasonable adjustments
  • Seven steps to inclusive recruitment and workplace diversity (link)

We must remember that the Covid-19 pandemic has already had a disproportionate impact on every aspect of disabled people’s lives.   Two thirds of people who have died from Covid-19 had an underlying health condition or disability and disabled people’s quality of life in the pandemic has been severely impaired in recent months.

Stakeholder Managers believe that accessing good work is a human right.  We will continue to “bang this drum” through Recruiting Talent events taking place throughout 2021 – many of which will be on-line.  More information about the online Recruiting Talent events will be shared once details have been confirmed.

Disability Confident

The Department of Work & Pensions Disability Confident scheme aims to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people. It is voluntary and has been developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives.

The Disability Confident scheme has 3 levels that have been designed to support you on your Disability Confident journey. Employers must complete each level before moving on to the next.

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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