Diversity & Disability

Eleanor Goichman Brett, consultant and trainer at consultancy PDT Global, part of Affirmity, discusses disabled candidates.

Around 15 per cent of the global population lives with a disability – yet the figures suggest disabled people are consistently less likely to be employed. Not only do we have a social responsibility to include more disabled people in the global workforce, organisations considered ‘disability champions’ have been found to have double the net income and 30 per cent higher profit margins when compared with other companies.

So here are five tops tips when it comes to attracting and hiring more disabled candidates:

1. Collect diversity data and use it

How an organisation increases its recruitment of disabled people varies, depending on its processes, industry and culture. As with any business initiative, your drive to recruit disabled people should be data driven so that the solution is right for you. To understand how disability inclusive your process is from beginning to end, you need to analyse diversity data from end to end – from your first contact with potential candidates, through to who views, applies and progresses through your process.

This will provide you with vital information on how to improve the accessibility and inclusion of your recruitment process. That way you will know if disabled candidates never engage with your adverts, are disengaging with your job roles or are being turned away post application, interview or offer. And you will be able to take a targeted approach to increasing the accessibility and inclusion of your recruitment process. It will also enable you to measure the success of the targeted activity that you implement as a result of the data – and adapt accordingly.

2. Advertise inclusively

Candidates will take up to 76.7 seconds (if you’re lucky) deciding if your position is right for them. It doesn’t take much to put off a candidate so it’s important to consider accessibility in every element of your advertising. Make sure you’re using a job platform that has a proven track record of attracting disabled candidates and meets standard accessibility requirements. If it doesn’t, then consider changing your job platform entirely or using additional platforms that focus on disability-specific recruitment.

Ensure all your job adverts are accessible:

· Have a clear inclusion statement that includes references to adjustments. This means going beyond a standard ‘equal opportunities statement’ to focus on inclusivity and accessibility.
· Use an accessible structure with colour contrast, clear language and limited text. For example, data shows that job descriptions perform best when they’re between 300 and 660 words and use short sentences.
· Avoid ablest requirements such as ‘thrives in a busy environment’.
· Don’t use ablest language such as ‘mobile’, ‘crazy’ or ‘visionary’.

These requirements will also help you attract non-disabled candidates.

3. Take an active approach to making adjustments

If you are not proactive about offering adjustments to your recruitment process, candidates may not feel comfortable asking for them when needed. An inclusion and accessibility statement on your job postings is a start, but you also need to ask every candidate if they require adjustments for the recruitment process. You cannot ask about their disability or impairment or the adaptions they would require for a role. But you can ask up front how you can enable them to complete your recruitment process and listen to their answer. This starts to build trust that you really care about disability inclusion from the outset – by listening and believing, rather than asking for evidence of a disability. People’s disabilities and requirements are different, so your approach to implementing adjustments needs to be flexible.

4. Demonstrate your disability inclusion

Research continues to show that job seekers take into account whether an organisation has a diverse workforce before applying for a role, regardless of their own background. Demonstrating your disability inclusion will help you attract recruits overall. This means going beyond promoting your disability-relevant policies and practices, such as disability leave or occupational health options. It may also mean being honest about what you’re not doing yet but intend to address. It’s far better to be upfront and show willing than be inauthentic and build unreasonable expectations.

Use storytelling to showcase the disability-inclusive experience of your current employees – even better if they are senior leaders and role models who are willing to share their stories. And remember to vary the format of those stories to ensure they’re accessible and inclusive for different kinds of candidates.

5. Educate your hiring managers and recruiters

One of the main reasons that a disabled candidate isn’t hired is pessimistic views and biases on the part of the employer – not the candidate’s ability to do the job. These biased beliefs often come from a place of benevolence – for example, believing that a disabled candidate may be at physical or emotional risk if offered the job. It’s vital that all managers receive training in disability inclusion and accessibility, as well receiving tools to prevent biased decision making.

But hiring managers will also need the right support at the right time to understand how to implement adjustments when requested. They can’t be expected to be disability experts but they should know their accessibility responsibilities and where to get the right information when they need it. For example, if a candidate has requested assistive software for the completion of an assessment, they should know what that means and how to implement it.

Likewise, recruitment teams don’t need to be disability experts. But they should be experts in the equality and labour legislation within their region as it relates to disability and reasonable adjustments, and how to advise their hiring managers accordingly. For example, they should be aware of local disability laws and local disability quotas, as well as their organisation’s approach to meeting them. They should feel confident explaining these requirements to hiring managers and ensuring they’re met. This information and skills should therefore be embedded within the onboarding and skills development for the role.

The key to disability-inclusive recruitment is to be authentic in genuinely wanting to enable an inclusive and accessible experience. It’s not about checklists but about creating a culture of belief and understanding. This enables disabled candidates and employees to feel comfortable to share their individual needs and have them met. Every disabled candidate is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to disability inclusion.

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