In 2017 we were shocked by the results from a staff survey. 11.6% of our Kier Highways workforce chose not to tell us if they had a disability. That’s higher than any of the other protected characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation. Only 3% of our workforce declared a disability.
If our own workforce doubted that we were a disability inclusive employer, then what chance did we have of attracting people with disabilities? 16% of the working age population in the UK are disabled and only 51% of those are in employment. It’s certainly an untapped talent pool for us all.
The Disability Confident scheme
The Disability Confident scheme
helps employers make the most of the talents disabled people bring to a workplace. It’s a fantastic scheme that helps you to focus on the things that will make the most difference to your business. It has three levels:
- Level 1 – Disability Confidence Committed
- Level 2 – Disability Confident Employer
- Level 3 – Disability Confident Leader
The scheme encourages you to evaluate your own business, look at what you already do (and what you don’t) and come up with an action plan that you design and deliver.
For us, it was not knowing where to start on our journey. The scheme helped us to create a focused action plan that really made a difference to us as a business.
Seven things Kier have learnt about becoming disability confident
- Don’t try and do this on your own. There are some great organisations out there who can support your journey. We partnered with Disability Rights UK and also BASE (The British Association for Supported Employment). Alongside the Department for Work and Pensions we had some great expert help and advice
- Start by raising awareness in your own organisation. If you are to become a disability confident employer it’s important that everyone understands the part they play
- Being disability confident may not be comfortable to everyone in your organisation. There is some great training available to help people become more disability confident
- We found that over 50% of declared disabilities in Kier Highways were mental health related. You may want to review what support is in place within your organisation for those with mental health issues and ensure that everyone is aware of it. We found that despite there being a lot of support available, people just didn’t know it was there or how they could access it
- To become disability confident, it’s vital that your recruiting managers and HR professionals are trained in inclusive recruitment. We found that we trained our line managers on so many things but never gave them the skills to carry out an inclusive interview. Now all our recruiting managers undergo inclusive recruitment training and they have found it really useful
- Think about how you ensure those with disabilities know your vacancies are accessible to them. We now advertise our vacancies with a range of people and on job boards that we would never have thought of before
- Utilise your experts. You will have people within your organisation who may have disabilities themselves or have experience in this field. We found a disability confident focus group made up of experts gave us some real direction and helped us on our journey
Although we are still on the journey to become disability confident, we are proud of our progress. Currently over 10% of our employees declare a disability and only 2% prefer not to say. And we have become a Disability Confident Leader. Now we continue our own journey but are also passionate and committed to help others become disability confident.