24 Jan 2023
Share linkedin-logo

Becoming Disability Confident. You don’t know what you’re missing.

In today’s challenging candidate market we are seeing previously relied upon talent pools drying up. To counter this, organisations are reflecting on their talent strategies and looking to new approaches and new groups to source the talent resources they need.  

Karina Townley, Managing Director at Guidant Global reflects on their Disability Confident journey and why now, more than ever it makes so much sense.

Disabled people are a hugely diverse group with many amazing skills and experiences where an impairment doesn’t necessarily impact on their ability to perform their day-to-day role. When you consider that over 11 million disabled people are already paid employees of a Disability Confident business, it begs the question why would you not consider hiring a disabled person? Why wouldn’t you become Disability Confident? Do you know what you are missing out on?   

Sadly, disabled candidates are often overlooked by many recruiters during the hiring process perhaps based on misconceptions, when in fact one in five of the working-age population is classed as disabled. Equally, should your employee become disabled while in post – as over 80% of disabled people acquired impairments through injury or illness later in life and fewer than 20% were born with impairments – employers are missing the opportunity of retaining valuable skills, a wealth of knowledge, and perhaps even a competitive edge. Often only minor adjustments are required to retain and accommodate a disabled staff member.   

We at Guidant Global saw the potential for our business, our people, suppliers, our clients, and the market as a whole and started our Disability Confident journey in November 2016. We were the first company in our industry to achieve Disability Confident Level 3 and have never looked back.   

Making a change 

To achieve and support your Disability Confident status requires commitment to put the right processes in place around disability inclusion. The scheme has 3 levels designed to support you at every step on your Disability Confident journey. You must complete each level before moving on to the next. There are many activities you can consider introducing, ranging from developing e-learning modules on disability inclusion for new and existing employees, to introducing Disability Champions for people to reach out to if they have a question or if a candidate needs to be considered for reasonable adjustments.  

You may want to consider adding accessibility technology to your websites, creating a business resource group so that disabled employees have a voice and a platform to drive change, or running regular employee surveys to better understand their well-being and what they need from their organisation. As part of our innovative approach to recruitment for internal roles, Guidant Global introduced an interview guarantee scheme for disabled talent.   

Spread the word  

Being Disability Confident can’t be approached as a box-ticking exercise and it was never about that for us. Guidant Global takes a proactive approach to promoting Disability Confidence both within our organisation and in the wider recruitment sector. We know that this long-term talent initiative is strategically important to our business, and it is something we are wholeheartedly committed to. It also fits perfectly with our values and mission as a leading workforce solutions organisation and part of the Impellam Group.   

To spread the word and encourage others to become Disability Confident, including customers and suppliers, we’ve hosted webinars and live events to share our expertise. In fact, during the first six months, 13 of our suppliers joined us on the journey and they have already seen the benefits to their businesses. Over the years many of our Impellam Group sister companies have also joined us in becoming Disability Confident.    

Good business sense 

Disability Confident isn’t just an HR initiative – a review of your processes and getting buy-in from all departments is key. Colleagues need to know why employing disabled people is relevant to the organisation, customers, and stakeholders in order to engage them, to think differently, and remove any fear. Changing attitudes means seeing disabled people as valuable employees with much to contribute, rather than a problem to solve. Once you start seeing talent first, the rest becomes straightforward.   

Any business case to become Disability Confident, to help your company thrive and grow, needs to address how to attract talented disabled people, how to support them, and how you are going to retain them. We’ve benefitted from the many business advantages that being inclusive can bring.  Having colleagues with different backgrounds, experiences, and thinking styles makes sure we are always innovating and staying ahead of the competition.   

Often any adjustments required are small but make a huge positive impact. Like moving an employee with a hearing impairment to a quieter part of the office or using preloaded and free accessibility settings in Microsoft software – an adjustment which may also help to retain other staff without a disclosure. When you consider figures from KPMG that calculate it costs an organisation around £35,000 to fill a role, why would you not consider adjustments to retain those you have already recruited?     

Impact on the business  

Companies that employ disabled people see a positive impact to their bottom line. In the UK, the total economic cost of sickness absence is estimated to be over £100bn annually. However, research from multiple UK employers said there was less time lost from sickness and absenteeism in their disabled staff than with their non-disabled staff.    

The proactive Disability Confidence approach has helped us to stand out as an employer of choice in our market. Our employees know they will be genuinely supported and welcomed into the organisation and therefore make positive choices to join Guidant Global. It has also enabled us to support our customers in their own inclusion journeys and we are often asked at the new business stage to demonstrate our expertise in attracting and engaging under-represented groups into the talent pipeline.    

Any disability inclusion journey starts with Disability Confidence. This is an area where you could really make a difference and inclusion efforts can be further expanded to other under-represented groups.    

Start your journey 

My advice to anyone thinking of beginning their Disability Confident journey, to hire or actively retain disabled people is yes, go for it! When 73% of employers who made work-related adjustments said it was easy to do, why wouldn’t you?   

The most important thing is to just get started, speak to disabled people within your organisation and get help from the right experts. As long as you are open to learning, improving and investing in talent, no one is expected to have all the answers. Disability Confident provides a great framework for that.   

To find out more about becoming a RIDI Pioneer, or to start your Disability Confident journey, contact info@ridi.org.uk.