Disabled people in the workplace continue the ongoing fight to combat challenges and barriers to equal employment, feeding into the ongoing disability employment gap. As candidates, disabled people bring a range of premium skills to the table, a unique perspective, and different ways of thinking. In collaboration with Evenbreak, the UK’s most accessible job board, we enter the conversation of the challenges faced by disabled candidates, how to identify an inclusive employer, and ways in which you should feel confident as a candidate of disability.
Disabled people provide ‘different ways of thinking, different experiences, and a new way of looking at things’. Often exceptional ‘problem-solvers’, as noted by Evenbreak, disabled candidates ‘get around all the obstacles that society puts in [their] way…[they] bring additional empathy, determination, creative thinking, and resilience’. Evidence demonstrates that teams and organisations that champion diversity and ‘supported employment’, make better decisions and ultimately experience a higher level of success.
How can we identify truly inclusive employers?
Finding a truly inclusive employer often comes from a company’s ethos and diversity & inclusion (D&I) initiatives. The real image is shown by the actions companies take to actively help disabled people in the workplace, pushing for jobs for disabled people, adjustments, and supporting disabled candidates from interview to offer, and beyond. Combating disability discrimination, D&I intiatives are arguably successful when the concepts are integrated into every facet of the company, from development opportunities, policies and procedures, to recruitment and hiring practices and use of language and marketing.
The way in which a company integrates their D&I initiatives will depend the size, industry and location. Each organisation will focus on different agendas, one may focus on increasing representation, others on pay equity and transparency. A key identifier is to see whether a business has opted in to the Disability Confidence scheme. Employers that opt in, must follow practical steps such as hiring a disabled person, or complete an assessment conducted by a third-party company to achieve higher levels. Finally, check the current workforce within the company. Are there people there with other impairments?
What do employers and recruiters need to know about disabled candidates?
There are three main barriers for disabled candidates in the workplace. The real barriers to employment faced by disabled people begins with the issue of finding employers that they feel happy and confident to apply to. As noted by Evenbreak, 82% of respondents to a survey conducted by over 700 disabled participants, stated that their most arduous problem was locating truly disability-friendly employers. While various employers describe themselves as ‘equal’ online, it’s rarely seen in practice. 71% of respondents rated their employers poorly when it came to understanding and empathy around disability.
Candidates noted their lack of confidence within the recruitment process as their second greatest barrier, including a fear of the process being biassed or discriminatory. Candidates noted that their opportunities to demonstrate their skills and qualities were being limited. This includes a lack of offering adjustments, the reliance on a CV and prior work experience wherein their opportunities may have been restricted, and the interviews themselves. Face-to-face interviews were noted by 50% of respondents as their largest barrier, with 75% regularly experiencing a lack of interest from the interviewer.
The rise of hybrid working has led us to question whether social mobility issues are being challenged. The opportunity to hire those outside of the usual parameters of the office should result in an increased talent pool, and an employee map that diversifies beyond the usual hiring zones. For D&I, having a structured and assisted hybrid system can aid those with disabilities, allowing employers to manage their working lives in accordance with their own individual needs. By removing dependency on working time and location, it opens new types of roles that were previously less reachable for certain employees. Removing these geographical barriers makes global roles, truly global.
The third concrete barrier lies with the lack of confidence in your own abilities. Concerns of how employers may perceive you is a consistent challenge for disabled carriers. So, how can we help the cause?
The help on offer to disabled candidates:
There are many ways for employers to remove barriers for disabled people. To start, there is a clear rhyme and reason in ensuring that disabled candidates know that as an employer, you’re serious about their talent, and that it’s a clear need for the recruitment process to be an inclusive and accessible one. Evenbreak promotes an ethos that translates throughout the world of disability, ‘nothing about us, without us’. A crucial and sensical message delivered in a matter of words, that reiterates that non-disabled people can’t simply second guess what works best for disabled people.
Here at Reach, we are proud to host and promote the Evenbreak webinar, ‘Disability Confidence: How to Feel Confident in your Job Search as a Disabled Candidate?’.
Disabled candidates face additional barriers when looking for work and can be seen by some recruiters as challenging to place.
Join the discussion with Evenbreak, providing free, accessible careers and employment support for disabled candidates looking for new opportunities through their Career Hive - designed and delivered by people with lived experience of disability.