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Ensuring fair access to careers for disabled people
The very fact I have been commissioned to write an article about access to professions for disabled people indicates to me that, despite a raft of equality legislation, many talented individuals continue to face barriers to securing their dream role. This is reflected in statistics which show that disabled people of working age are far more likely to be out of work than non-disabled people.
However it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. Many employers and professional bodies work hard to ensure fair access to career opportunities. Here are some tips, firstly on how to identify these employers, and secondly on attending interviews.
Look for employers who have are committed to promoting a positive approach towards people with disabilities. The most common schemes and charters include:
Positive About Disabled People (Two Ticks scheme)
You will see the “two ticks” logo on advertisements and application forms for many employers. The accreditation is awarded by Jobcentre Plus to employers who are committed to enabling disabled people to find and retain employment. A “two ticks” employer will offer a guaranteed interview to a disabled applicant who meets all of the essential criteria for a vacancy. In addition, the employer has to meet rigorous standards for supporting disabled people throughout their employment, including regular health support needs reviews and equal access to training and promotional opportunities.
To find out more about “two ticks” employers in your local area, contact the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre Plus office. You will find further details about the DEA’s role and other support available, including grants, on the government’s website.
Good Recruitment Scheme
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation believes that to become as successful as possible in the attraction, selection and hiring of people, it is vital to ensure that good practice prevails throughout the resourcing process. Employers who sign up to the “Good Recruitment Scheme” commit to a set of 9 aspirational codes of practice, the first being “We are fair, legal and ethical in our resource planning and recruitment procedures, with specific regard to actively promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace.”
Focusing on employers who display the “Good Recruitment Scheme” logo will help you to target your job search on employers who are committed to fair access to career opportunities.
1300 employers have signed up to the Mindful Employer charter, which shows their commitment to working towards better practice with regards supporting mental wellbeing at work. These employers demonstrate an enabling attitude to employees and job applicants who have experienced mental ill health. Look out for the Mindful Employer logo on recruitment advertising.
You’ve been short listed for an interview? Great! Whilst an employer is not allowed to ask about health or disability before offering a job, they may ask questions to check if candidates need any special considerations during the selection process. Types of adjustments will depend on the disability but may include allowing additional time for completing assessments to ensuring level access to the interview venue. Do ensure you communicate clearly any special requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made to enable you to perform at your best during the selection process.
Making your application stand out:
If you are struggling to get onto the career ladder in your chosen profession, think about alternative routes or ways to boost your CV, such as through work experience placements or applying for temporary roles in related fields.
This is an approach which is working for David, an experienced finance professional who has been struggling to secure work in his chosen field after being made redundant in 2012. David was referred to The Learning Curve, a training charity which provides learning and guidance to disadvantaged groups, as a Work Programme customer and the charity has been supporting him with his job search. David says,
“After being made redundant I spent my time applying for literally hundreds of jobs but kept finding myself unsuccessful despite attending a number of interviews. The cynical part of me feels that this is because companies see my wheelchair as a barrier to work and, despite the fact I am qualified for the role, think it's easier to employ a person who isn't in a wheelchair."
On realising that David is a GreenSquare housing association tenant, The Learning Curve put David in touch with Green Square’s employment and training team to see if a suitable work placement was available.
Sue Winter, GreenSquare's Employment and Training Assistant, said:
"We met with David to establish the sort of role he was interested in - with an impressive background in finance, it seemed ideal to arrange for a placement with our own finance team. To ensure a smooth induction for David, we made sure any potential barriers to work were removed, which included ordering a specialist keyboard, and liaising with teams across the business including health and safety, HR and facilities. We hope that future employers will see that David's needs are certainly not a barrier to office-based work and that any potential issues can be dealt with simply so that they can gain a valuable member of staff."
David’s Work Programme Adviser from The Learning Curve kept in touch with David regularly throughout his placement. Three weeks in, this is what David had to say:
"I'm really enjoying it and I'm happy to be back doing something related to finance. The biggest benefit that I've found so far is that the placement has helped me to get back into the work mind-set and into a routine of working 9-5, which I think will help me if I go on to find a job in future".
And I’m delighted to end on a positive note: at the end of David’s placement, he was offered and accepted a permanent job in the finance team at GreenSquare.
About the author:
Kathryn Roynon is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) and a fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP). Kathryn has worked in senior HR, training and recruitment roles in the public, private and charity sectors, including previously for disability employment charity Shaw Trust and currently as HR & Central Services Manager at The Learning Curve, a training charity which changes lives of disadvantaged people through providing accessible learning and guidance.
- Take a look at our information on fair access to the professions.
- Look out for the logos above when looking for organisations that employ or promote working with disabled people.