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Recruiting more people with disabilities won't happen by accident

A fifth of working age people in the UK have a disability – yet only half of disabled people are in employment, according to recent figures. That's despite the fact that organisations considered 'disability champions' have been found to have double the net income and 30% higher profit margins when compared with other companies.

Here are some practical tips for recruiting more people with disabilities:

Ensure your adverts and job descriptions are accessible

As with attracting any great candidate, you want their first impression of your organisation to be as positive as possible – and your adverts and job descriptions can make or break a candidate's impression of you as a disability-inclusive organisation.

Many companies have the basics sorted by ensuring they use accessible platforms and include an equal opportunities statement. But what often lets them down is ensuring the format and wording are also accessible. So ensure all your adverts and job descriptions use accessible fonts, images and contrasting, as well as plain bias-free language – and keep them short.

More on recruiting people with disabilities:

Case study: Exemplary disability management at Barclays

Disability needs to be higher on the D&I agenda

Disability inclusion starts with HR

Disability discrimination FAQs

Proactively advertise in disability relevant places

Potential candidates who are seeking disability-inclusive employers are likely to be looking for jobs on sites that proactively seek disabled candidates and provide the right support throughout the recruitment and onboarding process.

So using a disability recruiter, placement service or job site can not only significantly increase your disability recruitment but also provide a more positive experience for candidates and recruiters.

Use storytelling

Storytelling is a great way to share insights into how disability-inclusive your organisation is – and what disabled candidates can expect from your culture.

However, it’s really important not to come across as 'tokenistic'. It’s key to share stories of different people who have genuinely positive experiences and use different accessible methods to showcase their experiences of your processes, support, values and culture. 

Provide the right support for hiring managers, at the right time

Of course, having a robust, reasonable adjustments process for candidates is important – proactively asking about the access or adjustment needs a candidate may have.

But even more important is ensuring that your recruitment teams and hiring managers have the support they need to implement those adjustments when requested.

Hiring managers 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 a sign language interpreter for an interview, the hiring manager should be given advice on the best way to communicate with someone who uses a sign language interpreter.

Use your data

It’s likely that you already collect diversity data from your candidates. But do the right people have access to the data in order to monitor the success of their disability recruitment practices?

Not only should your recruitment and HR teams have access to that data but hiring managers should also hold the key to their data and be held accountable for it.

For example, if their data shows that very few disabled candidates are applying for roles, do they have the tools to make their adverts and job descriptions more inclusive and accessible? Or if disabled candidates are reaching interview but not being offered roles, are they expected to attend inclusive interview training?

Recruiting more people with disabilities won’t happen by accident – it takes positive intent and a great partnership between your recruitment teams and your hiring managers. 

Eleanor Goichman Brett is a consultant and trainer at global diversity and inclusion training consultancy PDT Global, part of Affirmity


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