Reflections on 2018 – Evenbreak’s Jane Hatton looks back…

Plate With Golden English Text Goodbye 2018. Bright Glowing Lights In The Background. Christmas Ornament Like Red Balls And Snowflake.

 

Like many of us, I like to take a moment at this point in the year to look back over the last twelve months. And what a year it has been for Evenbreak! Please indulge me as I reflect on some of the highlights.

 

Employer Engagement

A number of amazing organisations confirmed their commitment to employing disabled people by advertising all of their vacancies with us, opening up their opportunities to a whole wealth of talent. These include:

Met office logo   Gowling logo GCHQ logo   HS2 logoACAS logoComic relief logo

RIDI

Our relationship with RIDI continues! Two highlights were the RIDI Awards ceremony in March, and a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons in November. I’m very much looking forward to judging the entries for next year’s awards.

 

Image shows a photograph of Jane Hatton and Adam Etherington standing side by side in London

The Evenbreak Team gets bigger…

Our team expanded in May, with the addition of three astonishingly talented disabled people. This was a result of a new and pioneering recruitment process, which has created quite a bit of excitement in the world of inclusive recruitment. Evenbreak has already benefitted so much from the impact of three new sets of skills and ways of thinking.

 

We win some more awards!Award badge saying OAPSCp 2018 winner, diversity and inclusion award

Having won the APSCo Excellence Award for “Best Disability Practice” in 2017, it was perhaps too much to hope that we would win the broader category of “Diversity and Inclusion” in 2018. But win we did, and we were very pleased and proud! We were also successful with two bids for funding. One from the Big Lottery Fund to go towards our shiny new website (see below) and another from UnLtd that will help us engage with more disabled people looking for work across the UK.

 

Influencing

We were delighted to speak about inclusive recruitment at a whole host of events during 2018. Some of these were for the benefit of specific employers, including Tideway (and their supply chain),  the Advertising Standards Authority, Nielsen, the Financial Times, TSB and the Welsh Government (in the form of a TEDx talk). We also spoke at other diverse events including Inspire Recruitment, Energy and Utilities Skills Council, ‘Enabling Inclusive and Accessible Workplace Strategies‘ for Iansyst in Cambridge, the LMG Neurodiversity event at Lloyds of London, Lambeth Disability Confident event, Lewisham Job Fair (which we also sponsored), DisrupHR and the 2018 European Job Board Summit.

 

Consultation for change…

We were delighted to be involved in consultation exercises including the Lord Holmes Review into opening up public appointments to disabled people, the revised guidelines for the Best Practice Guide to Disability Confidence for Recruitment Businesses (a joint venture by APSCo and Business Disability Forum which Evenbreak will be sponsoring) and also the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s new guidance on workplace adjustments.

 

Image shows the words 'dream job - a video by Evenbreak' written on a chalk board

Exploring career aspirations & technology news!

We also found the time to produce a video with disabled people talking about their dream job when they were children. Click here to take a look at what they have to say.

One of the greatest challenges we faced this year was to find a developer capable of building us a new job board. It had to retain the great features you use and, crucially, the highest level of accessibility that our current board offers. But we also wanted to make it accessible for smartphones. We know many disabled people use smartphones to access the internet because of their accessibility and wanted to make sure that Evenbreak was as easy to use on a phone or tablet as on a laptop or computer. We eventually found a developer who could do everything we wanted, so look out for our new platform early next year!

 

Image is of a photograph of Jane Hatton's baby granddaughter

Personal Highlights…

For me, my personal highlight was the birth of my first grandchild, the adorable Talia. She arrived in May and has changed our lives forever already. My biggest personal challenge was starting to learn British Sign Language – something I wish I had learned many years ago!

 

The Future

We’ve had a busy and exciting year, but we won’t be taking it easy next year – watch this space for a sleek new job board and some fresh branding! Most importantly, our energies will continue to be put into helping inclusive employers open their doors to the huge pool of talent that comprises disabled people.

Wishing you a wonderful and inclusive 2019 from all of us at Evenbreak.

Jane Hatton's signature

Evenbreak wins UnLtd Award for making social change happen

Text stating 'UnLtd Award Winner' on a purple background

 

Evenbreak, as pioneers of disability-specific recruitment, has secured support from UnLtd, the UK’s foundation for social entrepreneurs. The funding and tailored support package will help us continue to drive lasting social change at a time when the UK is finally beginning to wake up to the value of the purple pound.

Founder Jane is a strong believer in ‘nothing about us, without us’.

In 2011 she created the UK’s first and only jobs board to connect inclusive employers with an untapped pool of talented disabled candidates. Evenbreak’s entire team is disabled, providing unique insight and valuable expertise to both the candidates and employers that they serve.

Savvy organisations seeking to address the looming skills shortage are well aware of the benefits that employing a diverse workforce has to their bottom line. Once an employer commits to employing disabled people, they open the doors to a wider talent pool, a more loyal, engaged and productive workforce and an increase in revenue, profits and market share.

But what if employers need advice too?

However, taking that step can be daunting for some, so Evenbreak also supplies employers with a best practice portal to guide them through their disability confident journey. The portal is packed with resources and advice from disabled people themselves and leading disability employers and clients, such as Channel 4.

Jane Hatton, Evenbreak, said: “We know that our specialist job board allows talented disabled candidates find opportunities with inclusive employers who will value their skills. But we can only help the disabled candidates who know we exist! The grant from UnLtd will enable us to reach out to far more disabled people so that they have the opportunity to find jobs with inclusive employers of choice too!”

Delivering social impact by harnassing potential…

Nas Morley, UnLtd Director of Partnerships & Influence, underlined the importance of the expertise and support on offer and said: “Enterprising people are at the heart of so much positive change across the UK, so it’s wonderful for UnLtd to be able to provide support for this social venture. We hope that our tailored package of support will help to develop many more sustainable businesses that will deliver lasting social impact. We’re living in particularly challenging times, so some of these ideas and innovations are urgently needed.”

UnLtd is working hard with partners from both the public and private sectors to help deliver social impact by harnessing the huge potential of social entrepreneurs to solve society’s biggest challenges. The organisation is focused on three big impact areas; resilient communities, employability and solutions for an ageing society.

More information on UnLtd’s latest funding opportunities is available online here.

Comic Relief join Evenbreak and challenge diversity apathy

The much-loved British charity, Comic Relief, well known for tackling poverty and social injustice in the UK and around the world, is the latest client to join Evenbreak and commit to advertising all of their job vacancies with us.

Comic Relief is determined to not only attract more, talented disabled candidates, but also to address workplace issues. The charity has signed up for our ‘best practice portal’, a smorgasbord of resources, which guides employers on best practice around inclusion and accessibility in the workplace. We feel it’s like having an expert around to hold your hand! Liz Warner joined Comic Relief as Chief Executive in 2016 and recently spoke out about the lack of diversity in the charity sector.  At a recent NPC event, focused on challenging the sector’s sluggish rate of progress in embracing diversity, Liz said: “I’m still relatively new to the sector. When I joined, I was shocked at the lack of diversity. I feel like there’s a long way to go until the sector is fully inclusive.”

Championing diversity in the Third Sector

Liz added: “Internally, we are putting a real focus on how we can champion diversity.  We have started to share ideas across the organisation about the issues to consider and how we could work in new ways.  The appetite for this is really strong and we are only just getting started.”

Jane Hatton, Founder and Director of Evenbreak, applauds the charity for tackling this issue: “Comic Relief has demonstrated a genuine commitment to inclusion and accessibility and Evenbreak is delighted to be involved in their programme to positively attract disabled candidates.”

Diane Lightfoot is Chief Executive of the Business Disability Forum. She too has urged other charities to step up and lead the way on disability employment. Cost is often touted as the main barrier to diversity initiatives in the third sector. But Diane reminds leaders that ‘a disabled role model costs nothing’. She suggests charities need to ‘live our values and demonstrate what we are campaigning for when it comes to disability in the workplace’.

 

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak click here

 

To find jobs on Evenbreak click here

 

 

Virtual not Distant – remote working and disability

Remote working takes inclusive employment to the next level.  It frees up office space. It allows employees to ditch the commute and is even good for the planet.  But what do employers need to consider when implementing it? Is technology the most important thing to consider? Or do the ways we work matter just as much?

Last week, Founder of Evenbreak, Jane Hatton, met up with the team at Virtual not Distant. They believe that the way we work is just as important as the tech.  How does an organisation go about instilling autonomy, trust, flexibility and transparent communication? How do you create a high performing virtual team?

In this podcast, Jane, Maya Middlemiss and Pilar Orti discuss disability and culture. Disabled people still find it twice as hard to find a job as a non-disabled person. And autistic people, in particular, find it hard to gain employment, despite the many benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace. We know that disabled people often have additional skills or ‘superpowers’. We know that diversity is good for business.

So why aren’t all employers tapping into this market?  What stops companies from accessing this pool of incredible skills and talent? Is the fear of ‘saying the wrong thing’ disabling in itself? Listen in and see what conclusions you draw.

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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

The rewards of an open and flexible recruitment process

In this blog I described the recruitment process Evenbreak used in a recent hiring round. Any recruitment process can only really be evaluated by the outcomes it produces. In our case, we were aiming to attract a number of diverse candidates who had the qualities and strengths required to do the two roles we were trying to fill.

As described previously, we received over forty applications from a diverse range of incredibly talented people, and had the somewhat enviable ‘problem’ of identifying the most suitable ones. They had a lot to live up to, as our existing team, at the risk of sounding immodest (and just a little smug), is pretty remarkable.

In the end, although we were advertising two roles, we just couldn’t choose between two candidates for one of them, and decided to employ them both. So the Evenbreak team gained three new members instead of two. I’d like to introduce them to you.

Kiana, Candidate Engagement Manager

I must confess, my own prejudices kicked in a bit with Kiana at first. How could a young woman of only 24 have the life experience required to carry out such a crucial role for the business? However, I very quickly understood that she has the most amazingly creative mind (demonstrated in part by a videoshe had produced), and had all the qualities we had hoped for and so much more. Her degree in film-making, her experience in campaigning, her human rights approach to disability, and her ability to communicate complex issues articulately and persuasively made her the perfect choice.

Other employers may have hesitated because she has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, meaning she requires a lot of personal assistance, and as a full time wheelchair user would need to work in an accessible buiding. They sometimes also make (inaccurate) assumptions about what she is, or isn’t, capable of. If so, it would be their loss entirely. She may not be able to remove the top from her pen independently, but she engages really well with people, organisations and media and is already making a huge positive impact on the team and Evenbreak’s stakeholders. Thank goodness I ignored my initial prejudice (there’s perhaps a lesson there for us all!).

Cassandra (Employer Engagement Manager)

Cassandra was the first person to respond to the advert, and she was very keen, but concerned that she “might not be disabled enough” as her impairment is a mental health condition. We laughed that in most recruitment situations candidates would be concerned that they might be considered “too disabled”, and it was good to have turned the tables for once.

Cass immediately appealed, because she had a diverse background, including PR and health. She is particularly talented in marketing and social media, and has great writing skills. Her enthusiasm and motivation were what first impressed me, along with her strong desire to make the world, especially the world of work, more inclusive and accessible to disabled people. Another creative mind (like Kiana), she comes up with some amazing ideas, and is incredibly pro-active at finding solutions to improve the way we work. Evenbreak is already more effective as a result.

Adam (Employer Engagement Manager)

When it comes to working with large employers, Adam has experience in spades. Most of his working life has been spent working and engaging with a range of diverse companies. Over those years he has developed remarkable skills in problem-solving, strategic thinking, analytical skills and stakeholder engagement. His progressive condition, Multiple Sclerosis, had made his previous job increasingly difficult, and so reluctantly he left. His personal experience in trying to find work flexible enough to accommodate his health condition attracted him to the approach Evenbreak takes to addressing some of those problems.

Adam describes his immense skillset as ‘old school’ and ‘traditional’. I describe them, even after only two months, as ‘impressive’ and ‘successful’. He is already making some productive relationships with existing employers and ensuring they gain maximum benefit from using Evenbreak.

 

In addition to the demonstrable and amazing qualities that these individual people possess, the magic really happens when they come together as a team.  The four of us share fundamental values around inclusion and diversity, and also have different and complementary life experiences, work experiences, skills, qualifications and talents which combine together to form something really special. It’s early days – we have only been working together for a couple of months at the time of writing – but I feel really excited and optimistic about the future of Evenbreak.

I’m not sure that this would have happened with a ‘traditional’ recruitment process. And I know that such an open and flexible process won’t suit every employer. However, are there elements you could take from it to improve yours? The rewards are plain to see!

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

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

Evenbreak Wins APSCO Award

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies held its 2017 APSCo Awards for Excellence on 18th October, at a special lunch at the NatWest offices in London. At Evenbrek we were delighted to win the award for Disability Best Practice.

The Disability Best Practice Award is sponsored by EY and is awarded to the APSCo recruitment member or affiliate member that has delivered an outstanding disability-smart recruitment process, either for their own organisation or for a client company.

We were thrilled to win this award against stiff competition, and loved the comments made by the judges about us:

“Evenbreak is an extremely innovative business. They are able to support other businesses who want to assist employers to bring Disability Best Practice into their organisations and support other organisations in the industry to do likewise. Disability best practice runs through the company’s veins.”

 

P.S. Watch this space for news about the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneurs’ Award 2017 – Evenbreak have made it to the final 5, out of a total of 72 applications!

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

Interview for GDH Consulting

Evenbreak’s founder, Jane Hatton, was recently interviewed by GDH Consulting. Here is an extract from that interview:

Can you tell us the story behind Evenbreak?

I founded Evenbreak in 2011 as a solution to a number of barriers to employment for disabled people.

In the U.K., disabled people have twice the rate of unemployment as non-disabled people. As a diversity consultant I had encountered various reactions from employers on this issue, from complete resistance to employing disabled people to a desire to employ them but not knowing how to go about it. As an employer I had employed a range of staff including disabled people, so had experienced the business benefits of doing so. Talking to disabled people, there was a wariness to apply for jobs, having been rejected so often at the point they first mentioned their impairment. And, as a disabled person myself, I knew the importance of working – not just for income, but also to have a purpose, a feeling of contributing something of value, and increasing dignity and independence.

Evenbreak addresses many of these issues. As a specialist job board it enables inclusive employers to specifically target disabled candidates with their vacancies, meaning they will attract more disabled candidates than through their usual recruitment channels. It enables disabled candidates to have the confidence to apply for jobs to an employer who has chosen to target them. We also offer online support to candidates in terms of how to sell themselves to employers, and to employers in helping them to become more inclusive and accessible.

Why was it important to you to create a specialist job board for disabled people?

Fairness has been important to me since I was a child, campaigning against children with free school meals having to stand in a separate queue from those of us who didn’t. My early career was spent in social work, with children and young people in residential care – a very marginalised group in society.

Following a period of training social workers I became an independent management consultant specializing in diversity (or “equal opportunities” as we called it then). My main interest at the time was race discrimination – this was around the time of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. I then became involved in wider issues of diversity, including gender, sexual orientation, age and disability, particularly in the area of employment.

Having spent many years promoting to employers the benefits of employing, amongst others, disabled people, a somewhat ironic twist of fate meant that I joined the 83 percent of disabled people who acquire a disability in adulthood.

I developed a degenerative spinal disorder requiring a number of spinal surgeries, leaving me in constant chronic pain, and specifically limiting my ability to sit.

This rather abruptly made disability much more personal, and I decided that rather than just training employers I wanted to contribute something tangible towards improving accessibility and inclusion for disabled people in the workplace.

I run Evenbreak lying flat with a laptop suspended above me. As Evenbreak grew I needed to employ people, and took the decision to only employ disabled people. Evenbreak strives to be a “role model” employer – we are a social enterprise (all surplus income going back into the business), a social business (only employing disabled people) and a Living Wage employer (all staff are paid at or above the living wage).

The rest of the interview can be seen here

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