In light of Disability Awareness Day on 12 September 2021, Fieldfisher's I&D service team look at three specific actions you can take to encourage people with disabilities to apply for roles within your organisation.
1. Take positive action by creating an inclusive workplace
Fostering a positive work environment, which embeds inclusion throughout your organisation, is the first step in building an inclusive culture.
It is important to develop an open and supportive environment in which people with disabilities feel valued and included.
It is also important for you, as employers, to realise that without inclusion, retention rates of disabled candidates may fall, as they may not feel valued and that their contributions are not recognised.
The following are ways to ensure you create and maintain an inclusive and diverse work environment:
Raising awareness of the challenges that disabled employees can face
Such training promotes awareness of the different types of disability among your employees and can focus on the steps you, as an employer, are taking to attract and retain the best talent.
Disability awareness training is important at all levels including the board, senior managers and anyone responsible for hiring and supervising employees. You should ensure this guidance contains information on how to promote I&D in the workplace, how to create a supportive and positive environment for all workers and how to demonstrate disability awareness in recruitment, development and promotion processes.
Effective inclusiveness policies
Such policies send a positive message to employees that your organisation values I&D and set the standard of behaviour expected in the workplace. You should ensure the policies you introduce highlight that inclusiveness and diversity are core values within your organisation.
Your policies should apply to every aspect of your organisation, such as recruitment, retention, promotion, pay and benefits.
Creating a culture of openness and transparency
By ignoring issues, matters can escalate into grievances, whistleblowing allegations or disputes that end up in litigation.
A more effective way to be inclusive is to ensure that matters are 'nipped in the bud.' You should ensure employees know who to go to if they want to raise an issue – this can be their manager, HR, values champions, mentors or trusted colleagues. Those individuals should then know what the organisation's process is to deal with such matters, both formally and informally.
2. Attract candidates from the widest pool available
How the wider community perceives your organisation will influence the recruitment of disabled candidates. Your public image should represent the inclusiveness and diversity that your organisation celebrates.
You should endeavour to make sure roles within your organisation are widely publicised. Relying on your own personal networks and word-of-mouth recruitment has the potential to exclude disabled candidates and can lead to recruiting the same type of people.
While each organisation has its own ways of recruiting talent, some important areas to focus on are:
Where vacancies are advertised
Where interviews will take place
Whether technology is being used in a way that provides all candidates with an opportunity to apply for the role
Whether the adverts positively welcome disabled applicants
Whether all recruitment stages are relevant to the job advertised
Whether recruitment teams, both internal and external, are aware of your expectations in attracting disabled talent
Whether all interviewers have been trained in conducting interviews that are inclusive and sensitive to the needs of disabled people
Whether the roles advertised can be carried out flexibly
3. Make reasonable adjustments
It is important to recognise that, as an employer, you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process for job applicants with a disability.
You should take time to understand the adjustments that a disabled candidate may need and review your process accordingly. In many cases, even if job listings reach disabled candidates, the recruitment process itself may prevent them from actually applying.
For example, you should:
Accept information relating to the application process in a range of formats and ensure any written assessments are also available in a range of formats.
Consider any time restraints imposed on applicants applying online as these could place undue pressure on the candidates.
Try to be flexible about interview arrangements. Discuss with candidates, in advance, where the interviews are to take place; whether, for example, they have wheelchair user access; and whether they need to arrange facilities to assist with sight or hearing impairments. You should be also be open to discussing whether candidates would prefer their interview to take place face-to-face or remotely.
This article was written by David Lorimer a director in the employment, pensions, immigration and compliance team at Fieldfisher and Alexandra Kalu, trainee. For more information on Fieldfisher's I&D services, please contact David Lorimer and Ranjit Dhindsa.
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