How wise is recruiting for ‘culture fit’?

I hear so many recruiters say they are looking for ‘culture fit’ when assessing candidates. Is this wise? In my experience, very rarely.

Culture is defined as “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time” in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Or, put more simply, ‘the way we do things around here’. Seeking out culture fit in candidates assumes that ‘the way we do things around here’ is the best, or even the only way things should be done.

The risk (and I think it’s a big risk) is that the practice of appointing people who share your customs and beliefs feeds into ‘group think’. This is where decision-makers sit around violently agreeing with each other, seeing every situation from the same viewpoint. It has been described as “A phenomenon that occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people’s common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Here, the desire for group cohesion effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving.” (source)

An organisational culture which has become complacent in thinking it already has all of the answers and can’t be improved prevents growth, innovation, disruption and is potentially dangerous to its future success. Including people who will look at issues through fresh eyes, with different ways of thinking and perspectives, and who will question and challenge the status quo is surely more healthy for the business?

Often, those organisations looking for culture fit are afraid of being questioned or challenged. They want people similar to them, with similar ways of thinking, who will just seamlessly slip in to the organisation without causing any ripples. Whilst this may be easier and more comfortable in the short-term, the long-term risks to the business can be huge.

The world is changing. Rapidly. Those who rely on ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ are denying the reality of the need to change, innovate and develop. Those who look for new, exciting and different ways to do things are able to not just adapt to the changing business environment, but to influence that change.

The next time you are recruiting, instead of looking for someone who will disappear into the background of your existing culture, actively seek someone who might challenge and question the status quo. Someone who is different from you. Someone who brings different experiences and ways of thinking with them. Are you brave enough?

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

“I want to be an inclusive employer and recruit disabled people BUT…”

Stop making excuses, start making changes – handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffee

Savvy employers are very aware there’s a skills shortage. They’re aware they need a wider talent pool to recruit from. And they’re aware that a diverse workforce is a good thing for business. So, what holds employers back from taking action? Changing the way they recruit? Tapping into new pools of talent?

Here are 3 of the excuses reasons we hear most often:

“So, I get that we’re missing out on 20% possible candidates. I get that employing disabled people equals profit. But how can someone in a wheelchair wait on tables?”

When a decision maker is presented with a new idea or a challenge to the ‘norm’, it is human nature to become risk averse. It’s rare for people to immediately see the possibilities being offered. Instead, most of us will come up with immediate, often flimsy, reasons as to why something won’t work. We are instinctive fault finders! Julia Galef, of the Center for Applied Rationality, suggests our brains are lazy. She argues that you should never accept your brain’s first answer to anything.  And encourages decision makers to move past the initial ‘cognitive laziness’. Instead, take some time to develop a more considered or rational response.

1 in 6 of the working age population is disabled or has a long-term health condition. That’s an awful lot of people to ignore. And only 8% of disabled people in the UK are wheelchair users. Disabled people, like the rest of the population, are a diverse bunch of people with a diverse bunch of skills. Candidates will apply for jobs that they are able to do. Occasionally, candidates might need some adjustments. But most disabled candidates don’t require any. Or only adjustments with no cost attached. And for adjustments that do have a financial cost attached, the cost is usually very low. Access to work can help with any issues that arise. Accessibility and inclusion should be considered in an organisation regardless. It’s worth remembering that both benefit not just employees, but your customers too.

“We would love to employ more disabled people, but they just don’t apply”

Most employers describe themselves as equal opportunity employers. But this information is often found at the bottom of the job advert as a tacked-on paragraph to the main affair.  No employer writes that they discriminate on a daily basis against disabled people. But sadly, the experience of disabled candidates tells us otherwise. Disabled people face many barriers. It begins with attitudes and perceptions, followed by inaccessible recruitment processes. And can culminate in a lack of accessibility in the workplace itself.

Many disabled candidates will only apply if they are confident of two things: Firstly, that their application will be considered seriously. Secondly, that they are sure they can fulfil the requirements of the role.  To attract a diverse range of applicants, employers need to communicate their commitment to inclusion effectively.

“We understand that by ignoring the needs of disabled people our business is losing money and we want to become more inclusive, but we’re scared of getting it wrong”

It’s estimated that by ignoring the needs of disabled people, businesses are losing approximately £1.8 billion a month. Employing disabled people helps an organisation to increase its understanding of this market. Additionally, it raises disability awareness and develops a more inclusive culture in the workplace. Businesses that embrace inclusion tend to see a positive correlation between profitability, employee morale and engagement.  The fear of using the ‘wrong’ terminology, offending somebody or making incorrect assumptions is understandable. And many of us will get things wrong. But we learn. And develop. And then the magic happens! Once a company overcomes their fear and starts seeing disabled employees as an asset, they open the doors to:

  • Access to a wider talent pool
  • A more loyal, engaged and productive workforce
  • An increase in revenue, profits and market share

 

To talk through your excuses  reasons for not employing disabled people, sign up to our best practice portal or advertise on our jobs board, please contact Janeh@evenbreak.co.uk

We promise she doesn’t bite.

 

 

Flexible working – the benefits for business

 

Flexible working used to be something that only Mums requested after maternity leave. They were usually turned down. And they were respected less for having the gumption to ask for it: A death knell in the corporate world, as it were. Now, employers are fast cottoning on to the massive benefits for their organisations. At Evenbreak our entire team works flexibly.

Here are just 3 of the reasons why:

Building an inclusive, diverse workforce

The Evenbreak team is very diverse. Our ages range from 16 to 60. We are multicultural and gender diverse.  We come from a wide range of backgrounds, bringing different work (and life) experience to the team. These differences are our strengths. We are all disabled people. But, our health conditions and disabilities don’t prevent us from working. We work flexibly. One of our team can only work in short bursts of 20 minutes. So, they do. Another prefers to work late at night. They can. We work to our strengths. The Evenbreak recruitment process itself was also flexible and candidate led. This meant it attracted a diverse range of applicants for Founder Jane Hatton, to choose from. You can read more about the recruitment process here.  This diversity means the team has an eclectic mix of skills, talent and varied viewpoints. Diversity also brings financial rewards. In 2015, McKinsey consultants studied over 350 companies in the UK, North America and Latin America. They found that:

“Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

Gender diversity brings similar rewards: “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Diversity brings rewards of immense value to any organisation.

Attracting and retaining talent

A traditional work pattern of turning up at a workplace from 9.00am to 5.00pm five days a week doesn’t suit everyone. In truth, it doesn’t suit most people. Travelling in the rush hour isn’t a particularly joyful activity for most.  And people prefer to work flexibly for a variety of reasons. Employers are familiar with the requirements of parents. The need to accommodate school timings and school holidays is obvious. But what about carers? Or those who study alongside work? Or those who simply want to work smart? And for many disabled people or those with long-term health conditions, the 9 – 5 office job just doesn’t make sense.

Many employers only offer traditional working hours and patterns. They are seriously limiting their recruitment talent pool. In doing this you fail to attract many of the people mentioned above, who may be the perfect fit for your company. And the best person for the job. Our entire team works flexibly. This increases productivity, motivation, retention and wellbeing.  It’s very likely that none of the team would have applied if this flexibility hadn’t been on offer.

Productivity and business costs

From a financial perspective, employees who work remotely save the company money. There’s no need to provide office space with all the consequent costs. Employees that don’t have to struggle through rush hour traffic (before even starting work) are likely to be fresh and more productive.  Remote working, travelling at quieter times of the day and working fewer hours, all help to reduce workplace stress. This, in turn, reduces absenteeism and increases productivity. According to research by Canada Life Group Insurance, 77% of employees felt flexible working aided productivity.

Flexible working not only makes the world of work better for employees but helps improve business too. What’s not to like?

Written by Jane Hatton and Cassandra Leese

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak click here

To find jobs on Evenbreak click here

And to find out more about best practice around disability in the workplace take a peek here

 

 

I consider inequalities (but only if they affect me)

As a new member of the Evenbreak team, I am on a steep diversity and inclusion learning curve. Although years of nursing experience has given me a great start, I didn’t know how much there still was to learn. This means that equality and inequality in the workforce are pretty much all I talk about now (that and dogs). It also means that I’m always asking friends how inclusive their employers are.

Conversations go something like this:

“Morning Rach, how are you? Can you tell me what percentage of disabled people your workforce has?”

When friends aren’t crossing the street to avoid me, I learn a lot. For example, one friend has an employer who is beginning to think about diversity. As a result, they have started a gender equality working group.

As a woman and a single parent, this is important to me. Because I have experienced the disadvantages of being a single, female, working parent many times. I know we need decision makers to make changes, act, consider us. But what about everyone else? And the disadvantages they face? Do we only think about the inequalities we understand or experience ourselves? And is there a hierarchy of inequity? To create a diverse workforce do we need separate working groups for each group of people facing inequalities? Or do we need an inequalities network? To consider inequality wherever it may raise its head, and in whatever form.

Do you know what you don’t know?

I’m learning a lot.  And there’s so much more to learn. The Founder of Evenbreak, Jane Hatton, posted on LinkedIn recently and gave me a head start.  She recommended that all white people read Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”. Consequently, it’s next on my ‘to read’ list. I don’t want to be someone that only considers the inequalities that affect me. And I bet your organisation doesn’t want to do that either. So, what else to read? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations…

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak click here

To find jobs on Evenbreak click here

And to find out more about best practice around disability in the workplace take a peek here

Evenbreak’s Own Recruitment Process

We advise employers to make their recruitment processes as accessible as possible, but do we practice what we preach? Here is the process we used in our recent hiring round, looking to fill two roles.

As a small social enterprise aimed at improving disability inclusion in the workplace, we have a policy of only employing disabled people ourselves. Our recruitment process therefore needs to be specifically developed to be both accessible and inclusive. However, we are also keen that our team is diverse in a much broader sense – diversity in terms of type of impairment, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, thinking styles, educational background, location and so on.

We advertise vacancies on our own job board, which is promoted in various ways to disabled people (partnerships with universities, colleges, charities, welfare-to-work providers, Jobcentre Plus, disability journals, social media, online and offline forums, etc).

We offer decent salaries and holiday entitlements and development opportunities as well as flexible working to ensure we attract the best candidates.

The adverts describe our mission and values, an overview of the role, and how we will support the candidate (smart-working, flexibility, relevant adjustments etc). We focus on strengths rather than competences, making it clear that qualifications and experience aren’t as important as drive, motivation and values, and that any protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) are irrelevant – our only interest is in what they can bring to the role.

Every candidate who meets the minimum criteria is sent a job description and put through to the next stage automatically (this applies to disabled candidates, but as we only employ disabled people it applies to all candidates who identify as disabled).

The rest of the process – the assessment of each candidate’s suitability for the role – is conducted on their terms. We state that we want them to have the best opportunity to shine in the assessment stage, and that we know the usual CV and interview process doesn’t work for everyone. Candidates are encouraged to demonstrate their strengths in any way which works for them – for example, written submission, video, conversation (face-to-face, telephone, Skype or email/messenger), examples of previous work etc.

Candidates can contact us (through telephone or email or whatever medium is accessible to them) to ask any questions they may have about the selection process, the company, or the role itself.

At each stage in the process candidates are asked if they would like any adjustments. As they know all the other candidates are also disabled, it is easier to request adjustments without worrying that this may disadvantage them.

Each candidate then engages in their chosen way to demonstrate they have the strengths we are looking for. The hiring decision is based purely on which candidate shows the most potential to add value to the business.

Each candidate (successful or otherwise) is offered comprehensive feedback and further advice if requested.

The outcomes of the process was that we had 41 applications – any one of whom would have been ideal. Written submissions were sent, telephone conversations had, face-to-face meetings took place, videos were watched, links were followed. Each candidate had the traits we were looking for. What a great problem to have! We were spoilt for choice.

In the end, we appointed three candidates, as we couldn’t choose between two for one role, and reluctantly rejected the remaining  37 candidates. The three candidates we appointed have turned out to be just the most amazing people, both individually and as a team (I’ll introduce them to you in a further blog!). Feedback from unsuccessful candidates was that they found the process open and inviting, and even tho they hadn’t got the job, many had increased their confidence during the process and found the feedback we gave them useful.

The process resulted in attracting a diverse group of ideal candidates, three amazing new employees, and 37 great advocates for Evenbreak, some of whom we can hopefully employ in the future.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

5 Tips to Make Your Job Adverts More Inclusive

Here at Evenbreak, we talk about diversity, inclusivity and overcoming barriers daily.  But how do employers keep disability awareness up front? Writing a job advert that appeals to disabled candidates is a great place to start! Employing disabled people means your workforce is far more likely to gain insight and understanding.  It’s far more likely to talk openly about disability and far more likely to challenge the status quo. It also brings huge business benefits to the company (but that’s another blog and indeed a book!).

Here’s how to write a job ad that appeals:

1. Make it clear from the offset that YOUR company commits to equality.

Disabled candidates have already had to overcome many challenges. They often face discrimination daily. They are less likely to engage with companies that only pay lip service to equality. The paragraph that begins “We are an equal opportunities employer…” is often dropped at the end of a job ad.  Does anyone ever utter a ‘yippee’ at seeing this included? Does anyone ever read to the end of the job ad? A study by TheLadders, found that job seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds reading a job advert before deciding whether it was a fit. Instead, please shout out about your inclusive culture at the top of the job ad. Talk to job seekers in a human voice about the changes your company has made to make sure they are open to all. Tell us about your culture and any initiatives you’ve launched. Add a bit of personality – this is your chance to sparkle! For tips on writing in a human voice, have a peek at what Founder of Human Workplace Liz Ryan has to say on the subject.

2. Avoid the never-ending list of bullet pointed job responsibilities.

It’s understandable that recruiting managers have a long list in mind of skills they’d like for each role. But this approach can at best, turn off brilliant candidates. At worst, it makes companies look delusional, if the list of wants doesn’t tally up with the benefits offered.  Disabled candidates are very unlikely to apply for jobs they don’t believe they’re qualified for. If anything, candidates are usually overqualified.  One study found more than half of disabled people have applied for jobs they know they are overqualified for. Instead of listing ‘employer wants’ for a role, consider listing only the essential ‘employer needs’. Use the extra word count to market your company to candidates. To receive three times as many applications and attract a better quality of candidate write a job ad that focuses on candidate needs. Not employers.

3. Tell candidates what you do differently and how you work smart.

Smart companies have fast cottoned on to the benefits of flexible working. With today’s technology there’s no need to commute an hour, to sit at a desk to work, to commute another hour home. Agile working is one of the smart working initiatives used by savvy employers to add value to their workforce.

Some benefits to employers include:

  • access to a more diverse talent pool
  • reduced attrition
  • increased productivity

Some benefits to employees include:

  • opportunities for disabled candidates
  • a better quality of life
  • reduced travel costs
  • increased time spent with family

By embracing smart working you’ll be able to attract a greater number of disabled candidates and a larger pool of talent.  Not convinced about smart working? Why not try it for a day and sign up to the Smarter Working Initiative.

4. Be mindful of the language you use.

Job ads often come peppered with industry specific jargon.  Acronyms and corporate buzz words like “KPI,” “onboarding”, “ITIL”, “compliance” are off putting.  These can not only send your job seeker to sleep (the acronym KPI has the same impact on me as a strong sedative); But also alienate potential candidates unfamiliar with your company’s lingo. Instead, use straightforward language. Tell candidates more about the potential career pathway offered. What does the job entail day to day? What is your company’s mission? What skills might your ideal candidate have?

5. Make it clear you judge candidates only on how well they fit the job criteria.

More and more businesses are signing up to become Disability Confident Employers. The scheme helps people identify those employers committed to equality in the workplace. Disabled candidates look for employers with good recruitment policies.  If your company:

  • is a Disability Confident Employer
  • offers a guaranteed interview scheme
  • uses disabled jobs boards such as Evenbreak

Then make sure this is obvious across your job ads, social media and marketing materials.  Tell candidates about what makes you great, they’re keen to find you!

We learn daily from Evenbreak candidates and the Employers that advertise with us.  Please tell us what turns you off about job ads and what makes you want to apply?

Cassandra Leese, Employer Engagement Manager, Evenbreak

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

Show how much you care about healthcare.

 

Do you care about maintaining standards in the nursing and midwifery professions? Do you care about people, fairness and transparency?

Then you should join the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Fitness to Practise panel.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council regulates nurses and midwives in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We exist to protect the public, setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance so that nurses and midwives can deliver high quality healthcare throughout their careers. Most nurses and midwives do uphold professional standards and work hard to keep their skills and knowledge up to date, but things can occasionally go wrong. When this happens, we have clear and transparent processes to investigate nurses and midwives who fall short of our standards.

This is where you could help make a big difference.

We are currently looking for people to sit on our Fitness to Practise panel. As an independent panel member you will hear and make decisions on any cases that have been referred to the committee.

We are looking to build a panel made up of people from a range of backgrounds and experience, including people living with disabilities. You must be able to make logical, fair and balanced decisions, work well within a team, and be empathetic and adaptable. You may have developed these skills in a range of different situations.

There are vacancies for registrant panel members (nurses and midwives) and lay members. You can hear a registrant panel member describing her experiences in this video.

If you have never considered a role like this before, don’t let this put you off from applying. Full training and support is provided to enable you to make a positive impact.

You would be required for at least ten days per year, and the payment is £310 per day.

Please visit www.nmcfuture.com for more details.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

Fancy being paid to get your degree?

  • Develop into the kind of leader that others want to follow, leading a team of up to 15 colleagues by your third year
  • Gain a BA (Hons) in Business Management and Leadership, and CMI status with the Chartered Management Institute
  • Work with, and learn from, our senior leadership team

Barclays Higher Apprenticeship programme offers you a paid-for degree, a full time job, study leave AND a salary. So on gaining your degree, you also have three years relevant work experience and no student debt.

There is no age limit, and Barclays are looking for anyone with the ambition to be a leader. All they ask is that if you left school less than 12 months ago you have achieved a minimum of 80 UCAS Points (in any subject), or otherwise that you have a minimum of 12 month’s work experience (in any field or sector). They are really keen to attract a diverse range of applicants.

There are more details here on how to apply online.

However, if you are disabled or have a long term health condition and online application doesn’t work for you, Barclays are piloting a groundbreaking alternative scheme called Able to Enable, ring fenced for 10 candidates, which offers a face-to-face experience, involving a number of stages:

Barclays Life-skills: a two-hour informal group session with other potential candidates in Manchester, Birmingham or London, focused on confidence-building and identifying transferable skills/strengths

Barclays and You: an informal group session where you learn more about the scheme, and have some interactive training

Real Experience: 13 weeks paid internship in a local branch (Manchester, Midlands or London), sampling different roles, and with adjustments to meet your needs

Barclays and You: Conversation to decide whether progression to the main degree programme is right for you

Higher Apprenticeship: You begin your 3 year BA (Hons) degree and a full time career with Barclays, with study blocks and support from the university and Barclays staff. You design your own career path, on a rotation sampling various elements of banking life. The degree is fully funded, and you are paid a salary throughout.

In order to be considered for this alternative assessment, the following must apply:

  • You have a clear motivation for becoming a future leader
  • You are able to work full time for the duration of the internship and, if successful, throughout the BHAP programme (3 years)
  • You have a Legal Right to Work in the UK for a minimum of circa 4 years (duration of internship and programme)
  • You can feasibly commute to the proposed pilot branches in your community (Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and various locations in London)
  • If you left school less than 12 months ago, you should have  achieved a minimum of 80 UCAS points (in any subject
  • If that’s not the case, that you should have at least one year’s work experience (in any field)
  • You must be referred by a partner organisation (Evenbreak is one of these!)
If this seems like an exciting opportunity for you, please contact me, Jane Hatton, on janeh@evenbreak.co.uk or 07899 800476 to discuss the possibility of Evenbreak referring you for the programme. The timeline is tight tho, so please contact me before Friday 23rd February.
The Higher Apprenticeships are a great way to be paid while you do your degree, and for most candidates the online application will be appropriate. The Able to Enable scheme is specifically for disabled candidates for whom online application really isn’t applicable, and who would prefer a more informal and personal assessment process. It’s new, ground-breaking and very exciting!

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

Inclusive Top 50 Employers

I was very proud to be asked to speak at the recent launch of the Southern Top Fifty Inclusive Employers event at Bloomberg. A number of people have asked for the transcript of my speech, so I’ve reproduced it here.

“I’m thrilled to be here!

Inclusion is to be celebrated, and what better way to celebrate it than events like this, sharing and spreading best practice?

I founded Evenbreak in 2011, the only not-for-profit job board in the UK run by disabled people for disabled people. I had been a diversity trainer for many years before that, focusing on diversity in its widest sense. When I spoke to employers about disability there were two responses – either “why on Earth would we employ a disabled person?” (or words to that effect), or “we understand the value and business benefits of employing disabled people, but they just don’t seem to apply”. Disabled people told me they didn’t know which employers were which – no business openly declares it will discriminate against disabled candidates!

And then I became one of the 83% of disabled people who acquire a disability as an adult. A degenerative condition of the spine, a series of spinal surgeries on my lower spine and neck, leaving me with chronic pain and the unfortunate inability to sit for very long. Something you take for granted until it’s taken away! So the issue of disability suddenly became much more personal and real. I became one of those people I’d been talking about all these years!

I decided to form a social enterprise to tackle some of the issues that had surfaced during my training. A specialist online job board where we do the attraction strategy and engage with disabled people in a whole variety of different ways. The more enlightened inclusive employers could advertise their vacancies on our very accessible job board to our thousands of talented disabled candidates, confident of attracting a more diverse response than they otherwise would. The candidates have much more confidence in applying for a job with an employer who has paid to advertise on a board which just targets disabled people. And, interestingly, are more likely to be open about their impairment, which makes the whole recruitment process much easier! And, of course, advertising on a board like Evenbreak sends a very powerful message about being an inclusive employer of choice.

I run Evenbreak lying down with a laptop suspended above me with a team of disabled people working with me from all over the country. It’s the best job in the world!

I get to work with an amazing bunch of talented disabled people, and also employers who understand the benefits of employing people from this amazing pool of talent. And I learn from both groups of people every day.

Many employers still feel apprehensive about “getting it wrong”. Anyone here feel they know everything about every impairment and how it might impact on someone in the workplace? No, me neither! So we have recently developed a Best Practice Portal with loads of online resources to give every employee within subscribing organisations access to practical information, guidelines, interviews etc with real experts. An autistic candidate talking about the barriers he faces in the recruitment process (e.g. interviews are not a good way of testing his ability to code). A blind employee describes how his induction was adapted so he could become familiar with the layout of the building. Inclusive employers share the best practice they have developed, to save others doing it from scratch.

I’d like to share some of what I have learned, partly through my own experience of becoming disabled, but mostly from the amazing people I’ve met on my journey.

Disabled people have so much more to offer than you might expect. Evidence suggests we are, on average, just as productive in the workplace as our non-disabled colleagues, we have significantly less time off sick, we have fewer workplace accidents and we stay in our jobs longer. We also have inside intelligence in how to attract the purple pound – an estimated £249 billion in the UK – which can make a huge difference to the bottom line!

Also, disabled people, not necessarily by choice – have to develop a set of skills to help us navigate around a world that simply isn’t designed with us in mind. We have to overcome on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis, barriers which non-disabled people might not even have to think about. This helps us develop resilience, creativity, problem-solving skills, project management, determination, innovation and persistence. All fantastic qualities to have in your workforce, I’m sure you will agree.

And yet, despite these tangible commercial benefits, the employment gap between the number of disabled people and non-disabled people in work – around 31% – hasn’t changed in decades, despite much legislation, regulation and government intervention.

I see, all the time, that the barriers disabled candidates and employees face are rarely to do with their impairments, but mostly to do with barriers around them. The problem isn’t the wheelchair, it’s the stairs. The problem isn’t the lack of sight, it’s the way we communicate (e.g. inaccessible websites). The problem isn’t doing the work, it’s the lack of accessible transport to get there in the first place. Or the lack of flexible of working practices.

I’ve learned that most disabled people don’t need adjustments in the workplace. And that if they do, often they cost nothing – like flexible working, or moving furniture around a bit, or supplying a bowl of water for an assistance dog. And that on the occasions they do cost something (maybe assistive technology) the average cost is between £60 and £200, and Access to Work will pay all or most of that.

I’ve learned that disability is still the poor relation of inclusion. That when I talk about diversity to recruiters, they assume I mean race and/or gender. Both of which are critical, of course, and much progress is still needed in those areas. Disabled people are the minority group that is growing the fastest. And it can happen to anyone, at any time (and I’m here to tell you it isn’t the end of the world if it does!). So it’s not just about recruitment. It’s about retaining staff who acquire a disability or long term health condition.

I’ve learned that mental health is still a taboo subject. It seems easier to talk about ramps and hearing loops than about depression or anxiety, let alone bi-polar or schizophrenia. And yet some of the most creative people I know are bi-polar.

I’ve learned that employers have to work just that bit harder to attract disabled candidates, who have become jaded at being rejected the minute their impairment crops up in the recruitment process. And that’s why awards like this are crucial. Appearing on a list of inclusive employers tells the world that you are serious about this. You aren’t just ticking a box and hoping to get away with it. You are genuinely putting things in place, and involving and engaging with stakeholders to become more attractive, inclusive and accessible to talent whatever shape, size, gender or colour it comes in.

It’s also important that we continue to celebrate inclusion and to learn from each other. We can move the world of work much closer to an inclusive world where everyone has a chance to thrive and use their skills. This will happen much more quickly by working together and helping each other than by us all trying to do it alone.

So, as employers, let’s make the world of work more inclusive together, and celebrate each step we make towards that goal. Thank you.”

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

Exciting News! The next Evenbreak event!

Opening Doors: Inclusive Recruitment and Selection

Thursday 28th May, hosted by EY, One More London Place, London

Evenbreak is holding a unique event, kindly sponsored by EY, exploring best practice in using inclusive recruitment to attract the very best talent from an often over-looked pool – disabled people. If you are a Director of HR, Recruitment or Corporate Social Responsibility in a business who understands the advantages of employing disabled people, you will:

  • Hear about leading edge best practice from acknowledged experts in inclusive recruitment, such as Dawn Milman-Hurst (Equal Approach), Susan Scott-Parker and Tracey Abbott (Business Disability Forum) and Jane Hatton (Evenbreak)
  • Learn about the successful implementation of various inclusive recruitment strategies from employers including Eversheds, BBC and EY
  • Be involved in an exciting and interactive Forum Theatre session with disabled actors, exploring the practical implementation of best practice
  • Network and share best practice with other senior professionals from companies who are also taking this issue seriously
  • Take away real, practical ideas that you can start to implement straight away

Speakers include:

Dawn Milman-Hurst (CEO, Equal Approach). After an illustrious career within HR, Dawn created Equal Approach, an organisation specialising in supporting organisations from a wide range of industries to remove barriers in order to attract, recruit, recognise and retain candidates with difference. Her expertise has won her a number of prestigious awards, including being recognised as one of the top 100 disability influencers in the UK in the inaugural 2015 Disability Power List.

Susan Scott-Parker OBE (Founder and Chief Executive, Business Disability Forum). Business Disability Forum (BDF) is the world’s leading employers’ organisation working to the mutual benefit of business and people with disabilities. Susan has an international reputation as an authoritative advocate for the business advantages of disability confidence and leads Business Disability Forum’s global Technology Taskforce. Susan was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2000.

Tracey Abbott (Special Recruitment Adviser, Business Disability Forum). With over two decades experience in recruitment, Tracey is recognised as a leading authority. She helps Members increase uptake of disabled talent whilst removing barriers. Tracey delivers external audits of recruitment best practice to both public and private sector organisations and also develops and implements bespoke recruitment tool kits, best practice guides and training.

Jane HattonM.Sc FCIPD FRSA (Founder/Director, Evenbreak). Jane founded Evenbreak in 2011 to help inclusive employers attract more talented disabled candidates. Evenbreak is a multi award-winning not-for-profit specialist job board, run by and for disabled people. Jane was runner-up as Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2014, and a Finalist in the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 award. She runs Evenbreak lying flat with a laptop suspended above her due to a degenerative spinal condition which makes sitting, walking and standing difficult.

Simon Minty (Founder and Managing Director of Sminty). Sminty Ltd works with larger organisations in the UK and worldwide on mainstreaming disability equality. Simon is well known for his experience and passion in the field of disability, as well as his creative endeavours on stage, in print and on TV.  He will be expertly running a session called “Acting on Disability” which uses actors to play out scenarios designed to address issues around accessibility and inclusion. All the actors have the condition/disability in the scene so can step out of character and talk about personal experiences. 

The conference is being sponsored by EY, a global Professional Services firm which prides itself on attracting and developing diverse teams to support their clients, and organised by Evenbreak – the UK’s first specialist not-for-profit job board run by disabled people for disabled people, helping inclusive employers attract more talented disabled candidates.

Programme:

9.30am                       Arrivals and coffee

10.00am                     Welcome and introduction  – Jane Hatton, Evenbreak

10.30am                     Employer story – EY

10.45am                     Inclusive Attraction Strategies – Dawn Milman-Hurst, Equal Approach

                                   Employer stories – BBC and Eversheds

11.30am                     Break

11.45am                     Breaking Down Barriers – Susan Scott-Parker and Tracey Abbot, BDF

12.30pm                     Lunch

1.30pm                      Acting on Disability (Forum theatre)  – Simon Minty and cast from Sminty

3.00pm                      Break

3.15pm                      Questions to panel (previous speakers)

3.45pm                       Final words, thanks and call to action – Jane Hatton

4.00pm                     Close

£395 + VAT per delegate (early bird price £245 + VAT available until May 14th)

In order to secure your place onto this amazing conference, please email Jane at janeh@evenbreak.co.uk if you would like to be invoiced. Otherwise, please book here.

Joining instructions will be sent to you prior to the conference. We look forward to seeing you there!