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Disability Awareness Day 2021: Promoting inclusive recruitment

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United Kingdom

Three tips for employers for attracting and retaining diverse employees.
 
While it is important to continually review the ways in which you, as employers, champion inclusiveness and diversity (I&D), there are often triggers that prompt a fresh look at your approach.

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

You should take steps to raise awareness within your organisation of the contribution disabled employees can make and discuss the barriers they may 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

While there is no legal requirement for employers to have inclusiveness policies, we recommend drafting and communicating such policies throughout your organisation.

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

Reviewing processes and procedures, including training and policies, is a key aspect of creating a diverse organisation. However, employees also need to feel safe to speak up if they face challenges and feel confident that the organisation will listen and try to resolve matters as quickly as possible.

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

You should also remember that, except in specified circumstances, it is unlawful to ask questions about health or disability before making a job offer.

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.

By implementing the actions suggested here, and ensuring that you keep your approach to I&D under review, you will be taking important steps to attract disabled candidates to your workplace and ensure they feel valued enough to stay.

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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