Workplace Adjustments – Case Study from Equal Approach

A fascinating look into workplace adjustments  from Gaynor Sears, Consultant at Equal Approach:

Working in the Equal Approach Inclusive Recruitment team, I always encourage applications from candidates with a difference, and I am confident in making adjustments for candidates with disabilities.

I received a call from Cathy Hands via the Text Relay service to apply for a Marketing Executive role at Remploy. Cathy is profoundly deaf and uses Text Relay as a way of communicating over the telephone. The Text Relay service helps people with hearing loss and/or a speech impairment to access the telephone system. A Relay Assistant acts as an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa for the two people in conversation.

During my time at Equal Approach I have communicated with candidates via this service before, but this time was a bigger challenge for me, since I myself have hearing impairment in both ears, and during this call I myself experienced problems with my hearing due to recurrent problems. I asked the intermediary if Google Hangout was accessible to Cathy and suggested we used this as a way to communicate more effectively, and this was agreed.

Cathy had struggled to find employment since she left her last role in 2015, so was slightly anxious about the process.

I interviewed Cathy via Google Hangout, and gained all the information I needed to be able to submit her to our client Remploy. Whilst interviewing via Google Hangout I discovered that an element of “animation” was lost, and I couldn’t gauge the level of interest from Cathy. I also found it was easy to misread her tone and sometimes misread the context of what she was typing. To overcome this I spent a lot of time reaffirming what she had said, using open questions to ask her to explain her answers in more detail.

Cathy was then invited to interview with Remploy, which involved some tests, so I checked with Cathy about her needs against the expectations of the interview, and made the necessary reasonable adjustments.

Cathy’s first interview with Remploy went well, and the Director overseeing the recruitment for this role then wanted to arrange a telephone call with each of the successful candidates who had made it through to the next stage. In order to make this accessible for Cathy, a Google Hangout was suggested as this had been a reasonable adjustment used during the initial stage of the interview. However, I felt that this would not be suitable as the Director was looking to gauge and assess the enthusiasm for the role from the candidates and get a feel for the personality of the individual, and I believed that a Google Hangout would negatively affect Cathy’s chances of securing the role as the Director wouldn’t get this from a Google Hangout. Instead I suggested that as a reasonable adjustment for Cathy, they should arrange an informal meeting instead, in order for the Director to be able to understand non-verbal communication such as body language.

The informal meeting was arranged, and subsequently Remploy informed me that Cathy was successful – Hoorah! So I texted her to ask if she was available to Hangout, so I could make the offer.

Informing candidates that they have been successful is my favourite part of my role. As a recruiter you build relationships with the candidates you represent and you get to know them over time, and I love sharing in their excitement when they find out the good news. I generally deliver offers by phone, which allows me to deliver the news in a positive tone and gauge their reaction. With Cathy I would need to deliver this news to her via Hangout, but I was conscious that I wanted to retain the positive tone that I would have use on the phone, so I made every effort to ensure that my written communication style matched to ensure Cathy felt the same elation as any other candidate.

Cathy was delighted and accepted the role!

The only thing left to do was to make arrangements for the reasonable adjustments that Cathy would need to carry out her role, which was straightforward to do, and included: an Access to Work application, Minicom System, Typist, and Text relay service.

It always feels great supporting individuals to secure a new job, but with Cathy I took great pride in helping her overcome the unnecessary barriers that she had previously faced in the recruitment process in order to get back into work. She is a fantastic candidate and is a great example of how adopting an inclusive recruitment process and removing barriers can ensure you recruit the best person for the role.

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