This is a guest blog from Morgan Lobb, CEO and Founder of Vercida
Recent news that the government is offering a £4.2 million fund to help get disabled people into work is indicative of a growing realisation that disabled individuals are a valuable yet untapped talent pool. However, while the employment rate among disabled individuals is increasing, we still have a long way to go.
There were an estimated 3.8 million people of working age (16-64) with disabilities in work in April-June 2018, representing an employment rate of just 50.7%. The employment rate for people without disabilities, meanwhile, was 81.1% during the same period. Against this backdrop, it is sadly unsurprising that a recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that half of disabled people in the UK feel excluded from society. And while the government, of course, has a part to play in helping to level the playing field for disabled people, it cannot achieve its goal of getting one million more disabled people into work by 2027 alone.
In order to attract, engage, support and retain disabled talent, organisations must foster cultures which enable employees to bring their whole selves to work so that they can benefit from the blend of skills that diverse workplaces offer. In my experience, the best way for businesses to realise true inclusion is to look to others who are ahead of the curve for inspiration.
For this reason, I’m incredibly proud that Vercida and Vercida Consulting are sponsoring an upcoming parliamentary reception, which will be hosted by the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) and supported by Eversheds Sutherland. Speakers on the afternoon will include Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Disabled People and Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office and Civil Service Disability Champion. The event will showcase best practice in recruiting disabled talent and celebrate the impressive achievements of the 2018 RIDI Awards winners – and I have no doubt that attendees on the day will leave with renewed confidence around how to best reach disabled jobseekers.
While the vast majority of employers are, in theory, open to the idea of bringing on board disabled talent, there are often knowledge gaps which can be a barrier to success. For many, even the term ‘disability’ is synonymous with wheelchair users, however, often it is those with ‘non-visible’ conditions who may need support during recruitment and in the workplace. For example, recent research from Versus Arthritis has found that more than a third (37%) of people with arthritis or related conditions are out of work, with a fifth (19%) being forced to quit because of employers failing to make the adjustments they need.
By pooling our resources, and opening lines of communications we can offer better support for those who need it. For those living with disabilities, moving into work is often the greatest hurdle to overcome. In fact, previous research by RIDI found that 75% of disabled jobseekers feel that their condition has been a barrier to employment.
The Conservative Party 2017 manifesto pledged to get ‘one million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years’. To achieve this goal there would have to be 4.5 million people in employment with disabilities by 2027 – representing a growth of 18% on current levels.
It’s an ambitious target. However, while the disability employment gap isn’t falling as rapidly as we’d like at present, I believe it is possible if we work in collaboration to create workplaces where disabled people can thrive.
About Kate Headley
The Clear Company is the brain child of Kate and Gareth Headley. As recruitment professionals, they realised the difficulties that organisations face in recruiting diverse talent and set about creating the tools and resources that businesses need to maximise their access to talent.
A nationally-recognised expert and auditor in diversity in recruitment, Kate works extensively with government & business in developing inclusive best practice.
She is a fully qualified HR professional who, following an early career in the private sector (Marks & Spencer) and the public sector (Manchester City Council) has spent over 15 years specialising in recruitment and diversity. Her passion and expertise in this area means that she is a sought-after speaker and advisor, helping to spread the word of the benefits of being diversity-confident to UK plc.
Kate is a key member of The Department of Work and Pensions Disability Employer Engagement Steering Group and is currently helping to create a platform for individual MPs to activate and support diversity best practice in their constituencies.