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Attracting Disabled Candidates

Esi Hardy 11/12/2018

Esi HardyAttitude & Inclusion, Disabled Accessibility, Language and CommunicationLeave a Comment

The Right Candidate

When recruiting for a role, whether that role is paid or voluntary, full-time or part-time, you always want to make sure that you’re getting as much value for money as possible. You want to recruit somebody that will do the job to the best of their ability and support you to grow your project/business in the direction that you want it to go.

There has been lots of work, studies, articles, conferences, etc around bias and the importance of being aware of our biases to ensure that we are not letting our perceptions predetermine who we are going to choose for the role.

However, these things still happen and especially in the world of disability where attitude is still the biggest barrier to acceptance and equality.

In previous blogs, I have discussed the processes that a business can put in place to ensure a disabled candidate can have the same access to a vacancy as a non-disabled person. This time, I want to focus on perceptions and attitudes.

The Danger Of..

Recently, there has been a lot of talk on twitter and other social media platforms about the patronising phrases that are used by non-disabled people. These phrases, whilst possibly said with best intentions, do two things:

  1. They undervalue our disability
  2. They create unnecessary perceptions

In a future blog, I will talk more about the first but today, I would like to focus more on the second. Within a minority group that is already undervalued, underappreciated and under-estimated, we are surrounded by phrases such as:

“I don’t see you as a disabled person” and “you don’t look disabled when you’re sitting upright”

These only further embed the notion that disability is wrong, is something that we should be ashamed of and is something we want to get away from. This is not the case. Many disabled people, including myself, celebrate that we have a disability. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t celebrate the fact that society has created barriers to us achieving even the most basic things on a daily basis. But I for one celebrate the fact that without the experiences presented to me as a disabled person I wouldn’t be as confident as I am today and I certainly wouldn’t be running a disability equality consultancy!

Celebrate Difference

So how is this relevant to the recruitment process? Well, if perceptions are the barriers preventing an employer/recruiter from seeing a disabled person as a potential asset, shouldn’t we be concentrating on changing them? Rather than assuming the elements of the role that you think a disabled person will not be able to do, think about all the things they will be able to do. I mentioned above that it is my experiences that has enabled me to run my own business and to be confident and challenge the status quo. Imagine what other skills and personality traits a person has as a result of being disabled. Obviously, every person is different but to mention just a few potentials:

  • Problem solver and solution focused
  • Highly equipped at organising
  • Open-minded and non-bias approach to people and situations
  • Proactive and productive
  • Access to new audiences

Often, non-disabled people feel as though they’re not treating disabled people any differently. However, if a disabled person cannot access your venue or the place where you are holding interviews or indeed the interview process, you are not treating that person equally. Simply because the majority of other people would be able to access all of the above without a second thought. When thinking about how and who you will be recruiting, it is really important to consider the process of that recruitment to ensure that it is open and equal for everyone.

Food for Thought

There are of course, always activities that you can implement to proactively look for disabled candidates. For example; targeted campaigns, advertising on recruitment sites that actively support inclusion in business, investing in disability awareness training to help staff engage with disabled people so disabled people themselves are attracted to your organisation. The above however should offer some guidance on where to start.

To talk further about your specific needs, get in touch

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