For July’s Disability Pride Month, Grant Neems, Stakeholder Engagement Director at Ingeus, discusses simple steps to being Disability Confident, the free support available to councils, and the new research capturing employers’ attitudes to disability.
Did you know that disabled people in the UK are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people?
Confidence is an aspirational concept, especially in the context of doing something differently. So, when it comes to being ‘Disability Confident’ that can seem like a big step to take. It needn’t be.
Disability Confident is the Government initiative that supports employers to attract, recruit and retain disabled workers. It provides advice on how to think differently about disability and offers free mentoring from companies that have already embraced the scheme, like Ingeus.
Employers provide evidence to progress at their own pace through the Disability Confident Committed and Disability Confident Employer levels. Moving to the final tier and becoming a Disability Confident Leader involves validation from a mentor. As the Department for Work and Pension’s provider of choice to provide these validations, Ingeus has worked with many companies, government departments and local authorities.
In undertaking this work I’ve learned that disability confidence doesn’t mean being certain, expert, or necessarily experienced in every aspect of disability. It’s about having the right motivations and correct support to make meaningful changes. Think small progressive steps rather than expensive kit or office refurbs.
I have yet to find an employer that can’t make some simple improvements to their recruitment processes. More than 70 per cent of employers that make work-related adjustments said it was easy to do so. Add to that the fact that 83 per cent of people acquire their disability while in work, and the business case for action is clear.
Spreading the word
My own disability journey saw me unemployed for three years, receiving disability benefit for severe osteoarthritis. I was effectively written off until a referral to a training organisation supported me into a short spell of volunteering, that led to a full-time job.
That was 19 years ago. I now lead Ingeus’s work as a Disability Confident Leader and am delighted to say that their passion for encouraging other employers to open opportunities for disabled people matches my own.
Ingeus – along with 20,000 other Disability Confident registered employers – hasn’t looked back since joining the scheme five years ago. Eleven percent of our workforce is self-declared disabled, and we actively share our own inclusion processes and tools.
Recently I’ve addressed MPs alongside the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Tom Pursglove; explored neurodiversity with Jobcentre Plus staff in Wigan; shared our work supporting the Valuation Office Agency for Employability Day; and delivered a webinar with the LGA! I promote the Disability Confident Scheme and work with organisations to review systems and processes to be more inclusive.
Ingeus has just completed the first holistic research project in the UK looking at disability diversity and inclusivity in British workplaces. Intended as an index against which improvements can be tracked over time, the key findings indicate significant work needed to expand the availability of suitable and accessible roles. It is frustrating and worrying that people with disabilities are scared they’ll never find a job. One in five feel hopeless, believing finding work they really love is out of reach. Connecting with this available source of talent is surely important for addressing recruitment challenges. We’ll be publishing the 2023 Ingeus Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index, soon.
A helping hand
We believe that Disability Confident is a movement, not just the right thing to do, so our employment support activity is provided free of charge. Many of the affiliated support services we provide are also government funded.
As one of the largest employment support providers in the country, Ingeus bridges the gap between jobseekers experiencing barriers to work and employers struggling to find the perfect fit for their vacancies, such as our programme developed with a London borough to recruit, train and support local applicants with diverse and first-hand lived experience into sustainable roles as case workers for the council.
We also deliver the Work and Health Programme and Restart Scheme across Greater Manchester, the Northwest and London, where we are funded to support employers to access tens of thousands of people who have experienced barriers to work.
Join the movement
Becoming Disability Confident is simple and the right thing to do for your organisation and your communities. Ingeus can provide free support and advice. Please contact me, Grant Neems, directly at [email protected]