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Janice Henson



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Diversity and recruitment – a necessity for the modern organisation


For any HR professional or hiring manager, the recruitment process can sometimes appear time-consuming, but in fact it is incredibly simple. When on a journey to find the right talent for your business, it is essential that you find the best person for the job, someone who can contribute positively and add value to your business. With this in mind, it is crucial to tap into the widest possible talent pool, including those with disabilities.

Since 2001, the employment rate for people with a disability has increased by 10%. Whilst many employers are becoming enlightened and realising the benefits of a diverse workforce, it is apparent that job seekers with disabilities form part of an untapped market.

Research shows that there are currently 1.3 million disabled people wanting to work. As more employers embrace the advantages of employing a diverse workforce, it is important to maintain best practice throughout the recruitment process.

Getting started

Recruiting in today’s society should be fully inclusive and give everyone an equal opportunity to secure employment. Recruiting those with disabilities should be part of your everyday recruitment process and not seen as an addition.

The recruitment process for workers with disabilities does not differ significantly from that of their peers and with just a few simple tweaks, you can ensure a fair recruitment process. However, at those times when you may need help from a third party, there is support and advice available from specialist organisations, helping employers to both attract and recruit those with disabilities.

Working with these specialist organisations and Work Choice providers to recruit disabled talent will enable an employer to actively promote their vacancies to those with disabilities.

In order to maximise the value that employing an inclusive workforce can bring to a business, HR professionals and hiring managers need to ensure that appropriate support and adjustments are available, to enable applicants to excel. Adjustments can include an alternative format to the application form, a change to the format of the interview, a work assessment or even the use of an interpreter.

If an adjustment to the process is necessary, support is available to businesses through Government schemes, such as the Access to Work programme. These minor adjustments can make the difference between an individual feeling supported in the process and allowing them to showcase themselves at their best – ensuring both parties take the most from the process.

Finding talent 

Making the decision to actively source and recruit a more diverse workforce is the first step. Understanding the support and advice available to you is important and can ensure your time is utilised efficiently and effectively. The journey should be a simple one.

Positive action during recruitment became lawful for the first time in the UK in April 2011, meaning an employer can choose to recruit from underrepresented groups, provided they are as qualified for the role as other applicants. While this is legal, there is guidance set out by the Government that should be followed. This puts employers in a position where they can actively encourage those with disabilities to apply for their jobs, whether this is done through special organisations, websites or Work Choice providers.

If you are considering supporting your current recruitment process by working with third-party organisations to recruit those with disabilities, ensure your objectives and end goals are clear. Understand how their recruitment process has been adjusted accordingly and take the time to see how this will fit with your current practice.

Assessing candidates

When it comes to assessing job seekers with a disability, your organisation’s behaviour and attitudes are equally as, if not more important, than the policies and processes you have in place. Jobseekers with disabilities often face unconscious bias and stereotyping at the interview stage, and so it is important to be aware of your behaviour. 

The interview process isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach so we recommend offering alternative ways of assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role. This could be through a work assessment, work placement or working interviews.

Retaining employees

Once you have hired the right candidate for the role, it is important to make sure you are aware of the support and development offered to your employee, in order to maximise their potential whilst increasing their loyalty to the company.

The level of support and adjustments required will be wholly dependent on the individual’s disabilities and individual needs. Utilise the support available through the Government’s Access to Work scheme, where you can find guidance on the adjustments you may need to make and the benefits you can claim to support them.

Monitoring & reviewing

Ask yourself, is this process working for you? It is important to review your recruitment  process and determine what is happening at every stage of the recruitment cycle. Identify where barriers could potentially lie and take evidence throughout, on how your candidates are finding the process. Always ask questions, don’t make assumptions; the best way to understand how to remove these barriers is simply by asking people.

Diversifying your workforce will give you the opportunity to bring new talent to your business and open up new avenues for your business, allowing you to achieve the very highest potential from your workforce.

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Janice Henson


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