One of my missions in life is to promote the benefits of employing disabled people to employers.
Of course, there are many sound business reasons for doing so, apart from the ethics involved.
Disabled employees are, on average, at least as productive as our non-disabled colleagues, and we have less time off sick, have fewer workplace accidents, and tend to stay in our jobs longer.
So if you want loyal, productive staff who save you money in terms of retention, you need to be attracting disabled staff.
Also, there are over 13million disabled people in the UK – that’s a lot of potential employees and customers. In fact, disabled people and our families spend over £250billion a year between us.
Having inside knowledge of this market has to be beneficial to any business’s bottom line.
The challenge is persuading the corporate world of these measurable, tangible benefits. Myths still abound about disabled people being expensive to employ – but this is rarely true.
Most need no adaptations at all, those that do cost little or no money (such as flexible working patterns), and, in most cases, reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of a disabled employee will be covered by Access to Work.
For any business, it’s got to be a good thing. Not only will employing disabled people help gain all of the benefits outlined earlier, it also contributes to promoting this good practice. Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people and, contrary to the stories in the popular press, this isn’t because we are all lazy benefit scroungers.
The difference people find when they send in a straight CV compared to when they declare a disability is quite significant.
This level of prejudice is damaging to disabled applicants, but also damaging to employers, who may be missing out on some of the best talent.
Once employers understand this, the problem doesn’t end there.
Attracting disabled applicants – who have vast experience of being rejected the very minute they declare their disabilities – can be easier said than done.
Employers have to work hard to give disabled applicants the confidence that they will be taken seriously: that the employer is enlightened enough to look beyond the disabilities and find the skills and talents on offer.
It’s for this reason I founded Evenbreak – a specialist not-for-profit job board for disabled candidates which helps genuinely inclusive employers attract more talented disabled people. We only employ disabled people ourselves, and candidates have confidence in us because we understand the barriers to employment that they face.
Our candidates also have confidence in applying to employers who have paid to advertise their vacancies on a job board specifically targeting people like them.
Advertising on Evenbreak doesn’t only attract more disabled candidates than you would find elsewhere, it also positions you powerfully as an inclusive employer of choice.
The current conversation is very much around skills shortages. I would contend that there are no skills shortages – we’re just looking in the wrong places.
Employers such as Lloyds Banking Group, John Lewis Partnership, Channel 4, Gowling, Heathrow and many others have already discovered the benefits of employing disabled people.
If you have, Evenbreak can help you attract this amazing pool of talent.