If your organisation is not accessible to disabled people, you could be missing out on talent. There are around 14.6 million disabled people in the UK. But disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed. This is partly because of bias and a lack of appropriate support at work.

Disability facts and figures

If you make simple changes, you could attract talented disabled people. Browse our 3 top tips to get you started.

1. Show you’re an inclusive employer

There are many things that could make your hiring process hard for disabled people. So when recruiting, it’s important to show that you’re an inclusive organisation. Advertise that you’re an employer who values disabled candidates and colleagues.

There are a few ways you can do this:

Representation and inclusive language in job ads and recruitment materials

Use plain English. Check the readability of your job ads, role profiles and other recruitment materials. Think about the language you’re using and any words that might exclude people or show bias.

For example, some roles need prioritisation skills. Saying how you want people to prioritise can exclude those who work differently.

Also use imagery, iconography and photography that represents diversity. Remember disability is a mix of conditions and impairments. Try to reflect this rather than focusing on one impairment.

Don’t underestimate how important representation is.

Use recruiters who understand disability and make application systems or forms accessible

If you want disabled people to apply, make sure your hiring process is accessible. If it’s not, skilled disabled people may not apply. They may not even be able to submit the application.

Attract disabled talent by creating accessible job adverts. Make your information packs easy to read. Offer alternative formats for anyone who needs them. For example, braille or printable documents.

Your forms and documents should also be compatible with screen reader software. If you have a website, it should be legally compliant. This includes any online application forms or systems. They should all follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Being accessible will show disabled people that you want them to work with you.

Show your commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and accessibility

Advertise that you’re committed to providing an inclusive workplace. And make sure you have the right systems in place to meet this commitment.

This can include sharing EDI strategy or plans publicly. Or outlining what you offer disabled colleagues. For example, disabled colleague networks, workplace adjustments, accessibility champions and so on.

Quick tips for accessible recruitment:

  • use tools like Textio to highlight language bias
  • check readability with tools like Hemingway app. Aim for grade 6 to 8 with 0 very hard to read sentences.
  • ask candidates on the application if they need adjustments during the recruitment process
  • tell your recruiters to look at a diverse talent pool and make sure that this is a part of their contract
  • highlight any relevant accreditations if you have them, like the Disability Confidence Scheme

2. Make your interview process accessible

Finding disabled talent is just the first step. After a disabled candidate applies, the process still needs to be accessible to them. Interviews can be a barrier if employers have not thought about how to make them inclusive.

If you have not included it in the application, when you offer an interview, it’s important to:

  • ask interviewees if they need any adjustments for the interview
  • ask about any workplace adjustments they need if offered the job. These are sometimes called reasonable adjustments.
  • give disabled people opportunities to tell you the support they need. You should make it easy for them to tell you.

This can put the interviewee at ease and make it more accessible. Think about the language you use, too. Words like ‘disclosure’ can seem negative. Instead use open language such as ‘tell us how we can help you’. Always focus on the adjustment, not a condition or impairment.

Quick tips for accessible interviews:

  • make sure line managers understand about workplace adjustments. They should know what they need to do before interviews.
  • train line managers to have confident discussions around disability inclusion and adjustments
  • make sure buildings are accessible. Offer candidates information about the room layout, building and interviewers to reduce anxiety.
  • offer other interview formats, like remote interviews
  • offer interview materials in a variety of formats. For example, text, braille, audio, and video format with clear subtitles.
  • give extra time for those who need it

3. Create a welcoming space for disabled people

Accessibility and inclusion need to be embedded in the onboarding process too.

If you are sending offer letters, write them in plain English. Try to reduce HR and legal jargon and phrases. And again offer alternative formats, like a word document instead of a PDF. PDFs are often inaccessible.

It is a good idea to stay in contact with your new starter and ask what they need. This might include information, timelines, equipment and workplace adjustments.

Set up workplace adjustments early

You should start the process for workplace adjustments before the employee joins. Some disabled people will already have the equipment and support they need. Others may need to apply for new support. Or they need help understanding what adjustments they need for the new role.

Talk to them about the job and what might be useful. Work together on a plan. Help them apply to the Government’s Access to Work scheme for workplace adjustment funding. And you can get further advice if you need it.

We also recommend hiring a Workplace Adjustment Specialist. They can lead on adjustments for all staff. And they can support employees and line managers through the process. You might also want to write a guide explaining your workplace adjustments process. This should include what managers are responsible for and their legal duty.

Develop a culture of disability inclusion

Start open conversations about disability. Ideally you will encourage your organisation to have an open and honest culture. And to have positive conversations about disability and adjustments.

It’s important that everyone is respectful throughout. And to recognise that disabled new starters may not want to talk about disability. They may also not want their condition or impairment shared with others.

It’s important to upskill your team to build confidence around disability too. Understanding the social model of disability can help with this. Training can also help raise disability awareness and understanding across the whole organisation.

Disability inclusion and workplace culture training

Make your induction and career development inclusive

You might want to set up a more in-depth induction if that’s helpful to the individual. For example, inbox management, code of conduct, workplace culture and language. You may want to offer extra time for training too.

If you need new IT systems, train all IT staff on how to use this software or hardware. This will make sure they can provide proper support.

Finally, remember that the chance to progress is important. If you want to keep disabled talent, make promotion opportunities fair and accessible. Make sure achievements are recognised and rewarded. Work with disabled staff network to find opportunities for leadership development and mentoring.

Also make sure disabled staff can join accessible training, events and seminars.

Quick tips for creating an inclusive workplace

  • make all changes before the new starter arrives
  • run disability inclusion workshops and accessibility training for your staff
  • reward inclusive behaviour
  • train IT staff on new software
  • provide an experienced buddy to ensure the first few weeks are smooth
  • set up a time to check in with disabled employees. Discuss the changes you have made to make sure they are helpful.

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