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Disabled employees offer "competitive advantage"

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Employers should be more involved in improving prospects for disabled people

Employers should be more involved in improving prospects for disabled people from primary school onwards, according to vice president and general manager of Dell UK Tim Griffin.

Griffin, who is a board member and EMEA executive sponsor at True Ability, an employee resource group aimed at supporting workers with both physical and non-physical disabilities, stressed the need for employers to be much more proactive around capitalising on the skills of disabled individuals.

“There is a challenge around skills in recruitment – but the disabled community has an awful lot to offer [to tackle] these shortages,” he told HR magazine.

He added: “The issue goes all the way upstream to education. We need it to be integrated and accessible, from primary school through to university level.”

Dell technology director Clare Whitehead said that overcoming stereotypical views held by management is essential.

“We need to educate management to make them understand that a disability doesn’t mean someone is not employable," she said. “We also want people to say ‘disability’. We need open, frank discussion."

Griffin argued that government interference could prove to be a double-edged sword. “I don’t want to see a prescriptive nanny state, but I do want companies to step up and see the benefits of a diverse workforce," he said. "It’s up to the government to build a foundation for both employer and employee – but then it’s up to the companies to build on that."

He added that he believed Dell's policies in this area, which include educating line management and working with the talent aquisition team to make sure recruitment messages are inclusive of the disabled community, give the company a "competitive advantage".

"Our society is diverse, and organisations should work to reflect the customer base they serve," he said.