According to research by the UK’s Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI), most disabled job candidates have a negative experience during the recruitment process, and a significant number report discrimination against them. Read on for the important highlights and takeaways from the study.
The RIDI 2014 survey was commissioned to support ongoing activity to improve the confidence of the disabled in the recruitment industry. The findings were based upon surveys conducted in 2014.
82 percent of disabled jobseekers have had a negative experience with recruitment agencies, which they attribute to a poor understanding of disability issues. In addition, over a third of disabled jobseekers say they have suffered discrimination against them.
There is a “significant disparity” between prospective job seekers’ perceptions and those of recruiters regarding the provision of “reasonable adjustments" required to accommodate disabled candidates – a statutory requirement under the Equality Act 2010. Although 82 percent of recruiters believe they provide the necessary adjustments, more than half of the disabled candidates who participated in the study disagree.
In another study by The Clear Company, reported in the Business Disability Forum, nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of disabled jobseekers responded “No or not sure” when they were asked whether they would use their recruitment company again, underscoring a lack of confidence with recruitment agencies.
What are "reasonable adjustments"?
Reasonable adjustments are the changes employers or recruiters need to make in order to prevent disabled jobseekers or employees from being disadvantaged by the recruitment process, “whether by virtue of a physical feature of your premises… or a process that places people with a disability at a disadvantage”. Adjustments can be implemented at every stage in the job hiring process from job design through to the offer, and including the retention of current employees. Failure to make “reasonable adjustments” is tantamount to unfair discrimination.
Employers and hiring managers should ask job candidates whether they need any reasonable adjustments to participate in the recruitment process. As there is a legal restriction on asking about health or disability prior to employment, it should be made clear to candidates that the questions are asked only to ensure than any potential barriers are removed. Critically, employers and hiring managers should only use the answers provided by candidates to establish whether adjustments are needed and whether these adjustments are reasonable.
The Business Disability Forum
If you’re an employer, the Business Disability Forum provides an audit service that will review the suitability of your recruitment processes. They also offer support and guidance through any changes that need to be implanted, providing tailored recruitment training where needed. More information can be found here.
The takeaways from the study
According to Kate Headley, director of consulting at The Clear Company which conducted the research for RIDI, whether through fear or ignorance, many employers and recruiters are missing out on a rich pool of talent. Indeed, the pool of disabled talent is sizable: 18 percent of the working-age population is disabled. Given the well-documented skills shortages in areas such as science, technology, mathematics, and engineering, those employers who are falling short of providing “reasonable adjustments” and who are serious about plugging skills gaps would do well to heed the proactive approach of the many companies who are fully accommodating their disabled workers.
Perhaps, in the light of this research, more companies will make the extra effort to tap into the underutilised demographics: the disabled, women and older workers.
Is your company accommodating of disability? Are they members of a reputable disability network?