How A Charity Is Tackling Underrepresentation For Disabled Workers
Disabled individuals are underrepresented in the workforce. Most have a legitimate fear of being discriminated against because of their disability. Many hiring managers are also reluctant to consider such applications. Creating a more accessible recruitment process is key to bridging the gap between the two groups.
Research has shown that 1 in 5 employers are less likely to hire an individual with a disability. Of these managers, 3 in 4 said they would be concerned that the individual would struggle to perform their job responsibilities.
Leonard Cheshire has spent the last five years stating that such assumptions are preventing employers from hiring talented individuals and stopping those with disabilities from entering the workforce. Leonard Cheshire aims to create a positive change by connecting disabled individuals with more employers across the UK.
How Change 100 Works
Change 100 is a professional programme that works with talented disabled students and graduates and some of the best-known employers in the UK, through paid summer internships. The programme was initially launched in 2013 and so far has been able to connect over 400 disabled individuals with more than 130 employers.
Change 100 offers the following for interns who apply:
- Recruitment and selection: Disabled individuals are more likely to apply to a position if they know employers are inclusive and accessible. Change 100 runs an inclusive application process for candidates, while ensuring that work adjustments are made.
- Programme induction: Change 100 works directly with interns to identify what workplace adjustments are needed and holds an induction day for those accepted.
- Employer recruitments: Finding a suitable employer can be a challenge for individuals with disabilities. Change 100 works with employers across the UK in different sectors and with varying company sizes.
- Disability equality training: Change 100 delivers disability training to all employer partners before interns start. Interns can also expect to receive bespoke sessions so they know what to expect.
Change 100 holds monthly events from July to December that aim to support interns to make the most of their internship. Topics such as managing a disability in the workplace, writing a proper CV, and basic interview skills are covered in these events.
Disabled individuals who are accepted get placed in a paid 8 to 12 week internship. The Change 100 programme provides interns with a mentor who supports them through their placement and beyond, including potential career opportunities. After the internship is over, interns and employers become part of the alumni network and continue to receive advice and new opportunities. Some even become ambassadors for the company who then go on to actively promote the programme to other potential interns.
Change 100 worked with 18 interns and 7 employers in its first year of operation. Since then, the programme has supported over 400 interns and worked with over 130 employer partners. A core aspect of the programme is about educating and supporting employer partners to become more inclusive with their applicants. Employers are also given the opportunity to take place in disability equality training so they can better meet their interns’ needs.