Most reputable employers recognise the value of diversity in the workplace and actively recruit diverse workforces. They are aware this is the most effective way of securing a broad skill set within their employee base that will reflect the diversity found amongst their clients or target markets.
The Disability Equality Duty, which came into effect on 4 December 2006, further places the onus upon employers not to discriminate and to be able to demonstrate that they are being pro-active in ensuring disabled applicants and employees are attracted to their organisation and can progress and succeed throughout their career.
Whilst most employers recruit positively there are ways to help identify some employers who are particularly keen to attract applications from disabled candidates. Things to look out for include:
- Equal opportunities policy statement on company websites
- Profiles of disabled employees on website or company literature
- Evidence of commitment to equal opportunities on recruitment material (including offer of adjustment to materials at application stage and requests for information about adjustments needed to enable optimum performance during the recruitment process or in the workplace)
- Achievement of the ‘Two Ticks’ Award (symbolised by two ticks and the words “positive about disabled people” - see below).
It is important, however, to note that just because an employer does not appear to demonstrate the criteria above it does not mean they will not be disability friendly. It is also important to select employers on the basis of what roles they offer, not just because they appear explicitly disability friendly.
The 'Two Ticks' symbol
The ‘Two Ticks’ positive about disability symbol is awarded by Jobcentre Plus to employers who have made commitments to recruit, retain, and develop the abilities of disabled staff members.
The employers who achieve the Two Ticks symbol have made and have agreed to deliver on five commitments regarding recruitment, training, retention, consultation, and disability awareness.
The commitments are:
- To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities.
So if you are making a job application, for which you meet the basic criteria for the role, and see the employer has been awarded the Two Ticks symbol it will be to your advantage to disclose that you have a disability as you are guaranteed an interview. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate in person your suitability for the role without worrying about issues such as lower than expected grades or gaps on your CV if these were due to reasons connected to your disability.
- To ensure there is a mechanism in place to discuss, at any time, but at least once a year, with disabled employees what they can do to make sure they can develop and use their abilities.
- To make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment.
- To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make your commitments work.
- Each year, to review the five commitments and what has been achieved, to plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.
It is usually the first commitment that sparks the most controversy - and where reps may be approached to become involved. Jobcentre Plus state that the following actions are essential, in relation to the first commitment:
"This commitment applies to all vacancies, internal and external, without exception. Ensure minimum criteria are available to disabled applicants and, in the job advert / specification, make applicants aware of where they can access this information. When sifting applications to reduce interview numbers any disabled applicant meeting the minimum criteria must be set aside for interview and not subject to subsequent change in the minimum criteria."