What barriers do inclusive employers face?

Two people signing to each otherOnce an employer has understood all the reasons why they would want to attract more disabled people to work with them (see previous blogs!), they may still find some barriers in their way. Again, as with applicants, these will vary depending on the nature of the organisation. Further blogs will look at addressing some of these barriers, but the first step is to identify them.

What barriers exist in your organisation when it comes to attracting and retaining disabled employees?

Some of the factors you might like to consider include the following:

Perceptions of the company by others:

  • Is the image of the company disability-friendly? Why would a disabled applicant have confidence in applying for a job with your company?
  • Will disabled applicants see other disabled people employed throughout your company, at different levels and in different roles?
  • Will your existing employees genuinely be able to tell them they will be welcomed and supported by all of their colleagues?
  • Have there been reports in the media of discrimination by your company to disabled employees or customers?
  • Does you company make special efforts to attract disabled customers and staff?

Barriers in recruitment:

  • Are your recruitment processes inclusive at every stage of the process?
  • Are your jobs advertised where disabled applicants might expect to see them? In a variety of places and in different formats?
  • Is your application process accessible (for example, your application form available in a number of different formats)?
  • Do your job descriptions only include tasks which are essential to the job, and only candidate requirements which can be justified as relevant for that particular post?
  • Do you use any potentially exclusive processes, such as inappropriate psychometric tests or work trials?
  • If you use third parties (such as recruitment agencies) do they actively encourage applications from disabled candidates?
  • Is your interviewing process fair? Held in accessible buildings with accessible parking, and with required reasonable adjustments in place if requested by the candidate (e.g. a signer, extra time for written tests, assistive technology if required)?
  • Are all the people involved in the recruitment process, from the writing of the job sepcification to the decision of who to appoint, trained in disability awareness?

Internal barriers:

  • Are all of your managers confident in how to manage and support disabled staff?
  • Are appropriate support structures in place?
  • Are HR processes inclusive – for example, grievance, disciplinary, sickness, performance management, access to training and promotion, communication mechanisms, etc?
  • Are the buildings accessible, or capable of being adapted?
  • Are you familiar with how and where to access support from?

All of these barriers can be overcome – some more easily than others – but it is important to take an honest look at your organisation to see what might prevent you from attracting and keeping talented disabled people.

What are the barriers you have identified in your company, and how have you, or how are you planning to, overcome them?

4 thoughts on “What barriers do inclusive employers face?

  1. Hi Jane (I’m assuming it’s by Jane, it doesn’t say) I’ve found one of the biggest problems with recruiting candidates is they are less than honest on their application form. they don’t complete the disability section and we have no idea that they need extra support.


  2. Yes, it’s Jane! Thank you for your comment Sarah.

    The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to ask applicants about their disability prior to making the job offer. This is so that the employer can make the decision based purely on who is the best person for the job. It is only on offering the job that the discussion about any relevant reasonable adjustments and support should be raised. Of course, if the adjustments required are completely unreasonable you won’t be expedted to make them and can withdraw the job offer. However, most disabled people don’t require costly adjustments, and many of those that do are covered by Access to Work.


  3. Thought this was a good blog and in response to the point about disclosure I think that most disabled people have found if they complete the disclosure section they are less successful in getting interviews so disclose at that stage. Its a real dilemma but whereas student admissions at University of disclosed disabled students show no large scale discrimination, the employment field still has progress to make in creating a culture where disabiled applicants can disclose in confidence.


  4. Thanks Pete, yes it is a constant dilemma as to when to disclose, and I look forward to the day when this won’t be an issue. Sadly, I doubt I’ll live to see it. But maybe following generations can benefit from us chipping away at the barriers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s