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Kate Headley

The Clear Company

Development Director

Read more about Kate Headley

Analysis: First three UK employers accredited for inclusive recruitment practices


Some 18% of working age people are disabled, yet only 48% of disabled people are employed as opposed to 78% of those without a disability.

Despite some really well-intentioned employers working hard to attract and retain disabled people, research has revealed that, among the 220 or organisations questioned, there were still barriers to inclusion, primarily due to a lack of knowledge and unconscious bias lying at the heart of recruitment policies, processes and practice.
The results of the study, which was undertaken by The Clear Company on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions‘ Disability Steering Group, also backed current statistics, which demonstrate a large difference in the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people.
But this unconscious bias is limiting choice for employers (and the recruitment industry supplying them) by reducing their ability to access diverse talent and creating a ‘glass ceiling’ beyond which disabled people find it difficult to progress. The problem is that unconscious bias, by definition, is not easy to identify. If you do not believe it’s there, why would you even look for it?
It takes a strong and self-possessed organisation to open their policies and processes up for scrutiny, but some of the UK’s leading employers from the private, public and third sectors are now doing just that, and working together to develop knowledge and share learning.
This collaboration has led to the creation of a ‘Clearkit’ online community, which already has more than 750 member organisations. It also provides a ‘ClearAssured’ framework for all UK recruiters to assess ‘current state’ and give them access to the expertise, guidance and support required to become more confident and informed about disability issues during the recruitment process.
Triple whammy
But for the initiative to be truly effective, more employers need to commit themselves to the process, to share their learning and, therefore, reap the benefits of a wider talent pool. 
Employers using third party recruitment firms face a particular problem, however. Trying to ensure that everyone who deals with your hiring process is confident around, and knowledgeable of, disability issues has been a real challenge up until now.
In fact, our research indicated that a shocking 100% of the 220 employers surveyed would not turn to a recruitment consultant if they wanted to see a diverse shortlist of candidates.
This means that disabled people face a double or even triple whammy when applying for jobs through a recruitment supply chain process. They are likely to experience barriers at the application stage (accessibility), the initial application assessment (unconscious bias at recruitment agency level) and the assessment stage (unconscious bias at employer level).
But the Clearkit Community, which is based on 10 years of disability auditing experience, can help here by providing employers with centralised online resources. These resources include case studies, research and a forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences.
Accreditation where due
They also include the provision of expertise from employment lawyers, technology experts, accessibility and disability specialists, assessment providers and reasonable adjustment organisers.
Of the organisations already going through the ClearAssured assessment process, only The Home Office passed first time round. The rest have had to make changes to their recruitment policies, processes and practices.
But last month, the UK arms of E.ON Energy and BT became the first private sector organisations to follow suit and achieve ‘Proud to be ClearAssured’ status after successfully completing the ClearAssured assessment process.
The next phase of the campaign revolves around boosting awareness of inclusive recruitment issues as was evidenced at an event at BT Centre in London this week. BT’s director of people and policy, Caroline Waters hosted the gathering to formally launch the findings of our research and was joined by Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People as well as E.ON’s HR director, Maria Antoniou,.
But at the end of the day, it is true to say that all HR directors would benefit from taking a closer look at their recruitment processes. It’s not only a legal requirement or ‘the right thing to do’. Ensuring that recruitment policies, processes and practices are inclusive will greatly enhance your employer brand and open your organisation up to a much broader pool of talent.

Kate Headley is development director at The Clear Company, which is an auditor of inclusive recruitment practices.

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Kate Headley

Development Director

Read more from Kate Headley

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