There is talk of talent pooling, talent pipelining – and the need to have access to a broader spectrum of talent. In fact , according to recent research, over a third ( 36%) of employers report a global shortage of skills, over half (54%) say that talent shortages have a high impact on their ability to meet client/customer needs and 25% say that they are looking to access untapped or under-tapped talent pools. But there is one huge talent pool that often gets ignored – that of the seven million working age individuals in the UK that are classified as disabled.
Too often disabled people are excluded from employment – not because organisations don’t want to recruit and develop disabled talent, but because either they are frightened of getting it wrong – or recruitment processes, partners and suppliers inadvertently place barriers in the way of disabled candidates. From talent attraction strategies that are perceived to tell disabled people ‘we are not interested in you’ to online application processes that limit people with certain impairments from effective participation, business misses out on hiring the best disabled talent and disabled people simply miss out.
Diversify your workplace
As the Association of Professional Staffing Companies represents a large number of recruitment firms which are engaged in the supply of professional talent, we felt that we had a big part to play in helping our members remove some of those barriers, go further to demonstrate diversity in their own businesses and help their clients to become disability confident in their own workplace.
That’s why we decided to partner with Business Disability Forum (BDF), a membership organisation with over 300 corporate and public sector members that account for nearly 20% of the new workforce. Together we have developed a best practice guide, which provides advice on how to improve the experience of the recruitment process for all candidates. It’s interesting to note that half of all recruitment websites offer no accessibility features and provide no equality or diversity information.
Taking the lead
It’s our firm belief that recruitment firms must take the lead in helping their end clients recognise disabled talent as an untapped resource and there is no better way than to lead by example. Additionally end clients are increasingly demanding a more inclusive approach to sourcing talent. BT has chosen not to renew contracts with recruitment firms because of a lack of commitment to diversity and GE Capital says that it has selected its new recruitment partner based on its commitment to a sustainable diversity policy.
But this isn’t just a ‘good’ thing to do – it makes absolute business sense. As Iain Wilkie, Senior Partner at EY and Executive Champion for Disability at the firm, says: “People with autism are strong at problem solving – just one of the reasons that GCHQ is keen to recruit them. Those with mobility issues are often good at coming up with creative solutions, many people with hearing impairments develop an invaluable ability to read body language while stammerers are often recognised as great listeners.
Why wouldn’t you want people with those skills in your business?” Why indeed!