Diversity has been the buzz word for quite sometime. There is now a positive surge around disability which I believe is increasing in number.
I often wonder why it is so hard for organisations to incorporate people with disabilities. The Equality Act 2010 has sufficient guidance to give organisations an informed process to follow. It is clear that it is discrimination to treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected with their disability. This type of discrimination is unlawful. If the employer knows of the disability reasonable adjustments are to be made.
Does the Equality Act 2010 go far enough to ensure that organisations comply? Some people believe the Equality Act has no teeth? Should we look at the roll that HR plays in enforcing the law around employment?
Disability discrimination is against the law so why are there so few disabled people in work? I once worked for an organisation who declined an internal candidate because they had a disability. The manager said they could not make reasonable adjustments to allow her to come back to work. I took responsibility to remind the manager by not interviewing this candidate he was acting unlawfully. The only adjustments the candidate would require would be to their workstation, they had lifts so her wheelchair would not be a problem and more importantly, she had the skill. Using a knowledgeable but firm approach with the manager, I was able to ensure that the candidate had an interview, moreover, she got the job.
The relationship between HR and organisational operations can be a challenging one. There are HR departments who are driven by operations causing conflict between what HR believe is right and what operations say they require. Sometimes it seem that both are at odds with each other when they should be working seamlessly.
HR and Operations can come unstuck even at the initial stage of employment. The Selection processes is mean’t to sift out unsuitable candidates but can also be used to avoid difficult discussions with disabled candidates. Fear can be a strong driver in these situation, not knowing how to incorporate the disability, the perceived cost of hiring a candidate with disability and sadly culture fit.
When I worked as a HR Consultant for the Metropolitan Police Service in 2014, I was impressed with the diverse culture they had managed to cultivate in their corporate services office. I was able to witness people with disabilities working alongside their fellow colleagues making the same contribution to the organisation.
You don’t need to look too far to know that there are great people out there with disabilities, Sir Stephen Hawking, Stevie Wonder, Frank Gardner (BBC news reporter) et al.
There are people making positive moves to support individuals with disabilities, four of whom I am linked with, Julian John, Christopher Catt, Martyn Sibley and Gary Denton. Some of these individuals work on a local level and others on a national level. Why not speak to them and find out how you can hire a person with a dis(ability).