- By Jo Faragher
The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative has revealed that just one in five employers regularly deal with disabled applicants for roles, despite the fact that every role should receive an average of three applications from disabled candidates.
The initiative is also campaigning for employers and recruiters to close what it calls the ‘disability employment gap’, which refers to the fact that just 47% of people with disabilities of working age were in employment between October and December 2015, whereas among non-disabled people, this figure stood at 80%.
One of the issues influencing these figures is that disabled applicants still feel cautious about disclosing their disability – meaning they may be missing out on a company making reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process. This is despite the fact that most employers, according to RIDI, are happy to make these adjustments at application, interview and offer stages, not to mention once the applicant starts work.
Disability disclosure can be a sensitive area for both applicants and employers, with many assumptions around disabled people still lingering – for example, that the disability will be a physical one requiring a wheelchair, or needing something audio-described because someone is blind. In fact, many disabilities are not visible or are complex, and candidates don’t always feel comfortable sharing details of their condition fearing it might hamper their job prospects.
The RIDI event that gathered the data also considered whether it was down to employers or their third-party recruiters to change these perceptions and encourage higher levels of disclosure. Most agreed it should be a joint effort, with agencies making the initial screening process disability-friendly, and ensuring there are no stumbling blocks in place that would disadvantage those with disabilities. Hiring managers, meanwhile, need to ensure that once the applicant makes it through to an interview or their careers site, the good work of those agencies in making the process equitable has not been wasted.
Through education and good communication, employers and their agencies can become more disability-confident, and with that, opening up a huge talent pool of skilled individuals to help their businesses grow.