The future is accessible

by Helen Reilly, Head of External Relations, RPS in Scotland

This International Day of People with Disabilities, I attended Inclusion Scotland’s The Future is Accessible 2019 event on behalf of RPS. I wanted to find out about the practical things that employers can do to help reduce the disability employment gap.  

In Scotland, data shows that in 2018 the employment rate for those classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 was 45.6 per cent which is significantly lower than the employment rate for non-disabled people (81.1 per cent). Scottish Government has committed to halving the disability employment gap by 2038.

Workplace benefits

By delivering more inclusive workplaces and improving employment practice for disabled people employers can secure a range of benefits. A more diverse workforce provides a wider perspective, offering insights for decision-making, and leading to the delivery of services that better meet the needs of all people.

At the event we heard from a number of employers about their positive experiences of recruiting an Inclusion Scotland intern and the benefits this brought to the whole team. We also heard from those with lived experience of the barriers faced by disabled people seeking employment. 

Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi, a previous intern from Evenbreak, told us ” The truth is that we’re innovators, creative-thinkers and problem solvers. So it’s time to rethink recruitment strategies to benefit your organisation – are you missing out on untapped talent?”

Small changes matter

There are some small and simple changes that organisations can make to their recruitment processes and ways of working to make their workplace more accessible for disabled employees. These include looking at working hours, increasing flexibility and offering interview support. 

There were also presentations from interns about their employment journeys and the opportunities that getting work experience opened up for them. Mags Moore of Sopra Steria saw their intern gain confidence and become a valued member of the team. 

She said, “There is an amazing talent pool waiting to get a foot on the employment ladder. You can give them that chance”.

Disability Confident

Diversity and inclusion is important at all levels in the workplace as it helps employees to feel accepted and valued. Staff who feel valued and supported are more likely to give their best and be motivated to be more productive, creative and innovative. This is why RPS has committed to improving how we recruit, retain and develop people with disabilities by signing up to the Disability Confident scheme, which supports employers to make the most of the talents people with disabilities can bring to the workplace.

Mags Moore told us that she believed that TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More and I think this is a very fitting reflection of how diversity in the workplace benefits everyone.