Disability Confident launch: recruiters can make change happen

11 Nov 2016



We were delighted to host the launch of the government’s Disability Confident scheme at REC HQ, alongside the Minister for Disabled People, Work & Health, Penny Mordaunt MP. This important milestone was an opportunity to showcase the galvanizing role our industry can play in driving the disability and wider inclusion agenda.

Last week’s gathering brought together REC members, government officials and a flurry of leading employers including B&Q, Fujitsu, KPMG, Lloyds, L’Oreal, Barclays, Compass Group, Arsenal, West Ham United, Marks & Spencer, National Grid, Channel 4 and The Civil Service – showing how organisations across all sectors are looking to make a difference. Here is a snapshot of some of the main messages:

Addressing misconceptions remains key

Penny Mordaunt underlined the need to “challenge misconceptions and highlight the benefits of employing a disabled person” and urged employers and recruiters to “make the most of this untapped pool of talent”. The Disability Confident scheme provides practical support to employers and will be a factor in deciding government contracts.

Progress is being made

There are 3.3 million disabled people in employment, up 365,000 over the past two years. A poll of REC members this year showed that just under a third of recruiters have seen an increase in clients committed to hiring disabled people. Dismantling latent barriers is not just the right thing to do, it’s also a way to address candidate shortages. Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, flagged increasing recognition for spending power of disabled people: the ‘purple pound’, estimated at over £200 billion a year.

Employers are up for it

Over 2,400 businesses have already signed up to Disability Confident, and inclusion is a fundamental value for many leading brands. Graeme Whippy MBE, Business Disability Consultant at Channel 4, underlined his organisation’s “vision for an inclusive and diverse workforce and industry” which reflects Channel 4’s remit to be “distinctive and appeal to a diverse audience”. Setting targets is an important way forward; Channel 4 aim to fill 50% of this year’s apprenticeships with disabled people.

Recruiters play a pivotal role

The Minister recognised the role that REC members can play in raising awareness of the scheme, not just within their own organisation but also amongst their clients. It was great to see a number of REC members – including Kelly Services, Manpower, Guidant Group and Equal Approach – recognised at the recent RIDI Awards.

We need to drive good recruitment

In a recent Business Disability Forum survey, 52% of respondents identified the skills and confidence of line managers as the main barrier to hiring and retaining disabled employees. Employers need to think differently about how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers. Getting more employers to work with their recruitment partners to review current hiring procedures is a core aim of the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign.

The REC’s mission is to ensure that the recruitment industry plays a leading role on the disability and broader inclusion agenda. Jobs transform lives; nowhere is this more salient than in providing job opportunities for under-represented groups.

Sign up to become Disability Confident here.

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