Improve your recruitment process for people with disabilities

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When it comes to creating more equitable and inclusive recruitment practices, there are a number of steps employers can take immediately that will let jobseekers with a disability know that you are an inclusive employer.

Inclusion Statement: An inclusion statement on a career page and job specification, including an offer of reasonable accommodation. This should be reiterated throughout the recruitment process and at the employment stage.

Example: [company] welcomes applications from people of diverse backgrounds and abilities. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with a disability. Should you have a reasonable accommodation request please email xxxx or call xxxx.

Job Analysis: Job specs should describe the job, not the individual who will fill it. To encourage the employment of people with disabilities, develop a competency based job description.

For example, ‘strong communication skills’ is rather vague, ‘good written skills’ or ‘confident telephone etiquette’ is more specific and speaks to the job function. Similarly stating ‘full clean driver’s license’ as a requirement can be a barrier where in reality the person requires ‘access to transport’.

Applications: Flexibility in how someone can apply for the role is a key positive action for people with disabilities. Jobseekers and employers rely heavily on online recruitment, so ensuring an employer’s career site is accessible is an incredibly important step towards inclusive recruitment. If an individual attempts to apply for a job and they are immediately met with barriers, they are less likely to continue with their application. Where a reasonable accommodation statement is included the jobseeker will know who to contact should they need to make a request for the application in an alternative format.

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Shortlisting: At this stage, applicants with disabilities are often screened out of the process. Sometimes their CVs and applications look different to other applicants, and they may have gaps, less work experience and alternative qualifications. Approaching all applications with an open mind and acknowledging experience can be gained in various streams opens an employer up to a much wider and richer talent pool. A key positive action is to commit to automatically inviting candidates who meet the required qualifications and share that they have a disability in their application to interview.

Testing: Some companies use assessment centres and online testing. These tools can be a barrier to applicants with disabilities, in particular non-visible disabilities. Consider whether you can waive this requirement for applicants with a disability. A work trial or placement may be a better way to assess the abilities of applicants with disabilities.

If you insist on testing, consider implementing the following measures:

  • Ensure that the testing location and materials are accessible for all types of disability, including neurodiverse applicants, specific learning difficulties like dyslexia and those with sensory and physical disabilities.
  • Make sure the test or assessment is flexible and accessible to people with all types of disabilities. Ask the test developer if unsure and consider if assistive technology is required.
  • Consider using other measures of assessment to evaluate applicants. Decisions based only on these results won’t ensure a diverse mix of candidates.

Interviews: The main purpose of an interview is to establish whether applicants have the skills and capability to do the essential and core elements of the job. Ensure the interview process is competency based to get the best result.

  • Members of the interview panel should be appropriately trained in disability awareness.
  • Ask all candidates the same open and direct questions about their ability to perform the functions of the role.
  • Avoid asking multiple questions at a time, this can be difficult for candidates to process.
  • Don’t concentrate on the disability or how it may impact at work. Focus on the ability of the candidate.
  • Be open-minded as to how the job can be done – people with disabilities will approach tasks differently.
  • Interview questions can be offered ahead of the interview.s

Author: Christabelle Feeney, director at employer disability information service Employers For Change in Ireland. Employers for Change offers free disability awareness training, as well as advice and information.

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