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Creating a More Inclusive Workplace

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Katherine Watson

It is estimated that a 10% increase in the employment rate amongst disabled adults would lead to an extra £12bn contribution to the economy by 2030. Clearly there are many more important reasons to make workplaces more inclusive than financial but there is a wider positive monetary impact on society including less pressure on the social welfare system and health service. Obviously having a greater mix of people at work means more skills, different experiences, better perspectives and lots more ideas.

We have had some great feedback from employers (many of whom were very nervous about employing people with very complex disabilities) around the positive effect in terms of staff morale, pride in working for the organisation to position them as a preferred employer and increased knowledge of all staff about disability. We’ve often found there have also been successes in terms of team building, better communication as well as improvements in creativity and problem solving amongst teams.

For disabled people, being seen as equals in society and valued for their contribution is invaluable.

Therefore, it is important that every workplace makes this a priority and below are some guidelines to help:

Being an inclusive employer is no longer just a tick box exercise. The Equality Act 2010 means a set of policies is no longer enough but to create a truly diverse workplace, the spirit of it must be embraced. Make diversity a part of your brand’s identity. It’s not enough to simply state that you’re a diverse organisation; actions speak much louder than words. Show everyone that your business embraces differences by hiring a vibrant staff of different backgrounds.

Equality and diversity is all about building a dynamic team that incorporates different backgrounds and cultures. A huge step toward a more diverse workforce is a more creative recruitment strategy to reflect the community you operate in. Ideally, your team members should represent your entire customer base. We find networking at local community and business events really helps keep both sides abreast of current needs. Look beyond traditional hiring sources such as university programmes and industry organisations, and search for more unique talent pools. www.disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk.

We follow the guidelines and briefing of the National Occupational Standards for Supported Employment. There are some really useful points in here for companies of any size.

OFSTED have also created two good practice guides on decision-making and communication that can be good resources for prospective employers.

Being really clear about job roles and tasks and matching them exactly to the employee are particularly important. We use Pen Portraits of our young people to help prospective employers understand the particular abilities and needs of each. Plus we create personalized resources, which are often picture based, that are tailored to each role.

In 2016 (four years on from London 2012) 67% of the population still said they felt awkward around people with disabilities. Therefore, disability awareness training for employees is critical, especially to reduce anxiety of saying the wrong thing. Seashell offers disability awareness training around general understanding of disabilities, sign language and autism and focuses on the fact that being diverse doesn’t mean being perfect!

Office for National Statistics, August 2017
Shaw Trust, January 2016
Scope: Enabling Work, 2016
Scope: Priced out, 2014

Scope: Current attitudes to disabled people, 2014

About the Author – Katherine Watson

Katherine Watson is Job Coach at Seashell and is currently managing 44 work placements for young adults who all have very complex disabilities, ranging from small to large businesses and incorporating office, factory and outdoor working environments. She is passionate about getting more young people with disabilities in to work.

Email: katherine.watson@seashelltrust.org.uk
Telephone: 0161 610 0425
Twitter: @Seashelltrust


November 7th, 2017

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