Today is the International Day of People with Disabilities. Since the United Nations first marked this day in 1992, it’s been an opportunity to reflect on our progress to create a genuinely inclusive labour market. It’s time for us to take stock and identify our role in driving progress.
People with disabilities face considerable barriers in the world of work, not least the attitudes of some employers and colleagues. This can be seen in the disability employment gap – the difference in the employment rate among working-age people with a disability versus those without. ONS figures out this week show the gap is closing, from 34.2% in 2014 to 28.6% this year. That’s good news, but there’s clearly more to do. The next step is to look at how we can accelerate this progress.
Recruiters can led the way is demonstrating what works
A recent REC poll of recruitment professionals told us that ‘showcasing examples of what works in practice’ is the biggest driver of change (cited by 81% of respondents). Our industry can make a big difference by showing clients examples of best practice, rather than just talking about it.
Showcasing what works and dialling up the good is at the heart of the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) annual awards and the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign, which is now backed by nearly 500 leading employers. With 90% of employers saying that they are looking to their recruitment partners for expertise, there are opportunities for industry leaders to take a lead in dismantling employment barriers for under-represented groups. This is the direction of travel, with one in five (22%) recruitment professionals flagging ‘being ahead of the game on diversity and inclusion’ as the best ‘hook’ for creating more strategic conversations with clients.
Practical steps towards an inclusive future
Our vision for a future UK jobs market is one that is all-inclusive; this is one of the pillars of the REC’s Future of Jobs Observatory. A core finding from our future-facing activities is that peer to peer networks can be a driver of sustained change across all sectors, including our own. This is also the aim of the RIDI 100 network which has a pivotal role to play in harnessing the collective energy and insight of recruiters and making workplaces more inclusive of disabled people.
We’ve seen great examples of employers and recruiters making a real difference by refocusing the ‘employer brand’ to attract more diverse applicants. Investing in disability awareness training for line managers, overhauling graduate recruitment schemes to boost inclusion and investing in technology are more real life, practical steps we can showcase. A good example of this last point was a leading recruiter working with a client to invest in technology enabling individuals with hearing impairments to work in call centres.
Let’s all be agents of change!
UK employers want to move from good intentions to making a tangible difference on the disability and wider inclusion agenda. Initiatives like RIDI, Disability Confident and the Good Recruitment Campaign are focusing minds and recruitment professionals can seize the opportunity to position themselves as agents on change. International Day for Disabled People is a good day to showcase this pivotal role.