Minister for Disabled People launches scheme to highlight untapped talent to employers

This week, a new Disability Confident scheme was launched, giving employers the tools they need to recruit, retain and develop disabled people in their workforce.

The new scheme will build on the first phase of Disability Confident, introduced in July 2013, which has been creating a movement for change by getting employers to think differently about disability and take action to attract, recruit and retain disabled workers.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, said:

“Disability Confident is about increasing opportunities for disabled people and for employers and this major revamp will take the scheme to the next level.

“More than 2,400 businesses have signed up so far and this is a great start but I want to see all employers challenging the misconceptions of the past and realising the many benefits disabled people can bring to the workplace.

“I urge employers everywhere to become Disability Confident and make the most of this untapped pool of talent.”

Latest figures show that employment prospects for disabled people are improving. Nearly 3.4 million disabled people are now in work, up almost 500,000 in 3 years. A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development has shown that disabled employees outperform their colleagues in a range of areas, including professional ambition and innovation.

The new Disability Confident scheme has absorbed and built upon ‘Two Ticks’, a scheme that was seen as ground breaking at the time of its inception in 1990, with employers signing up to one of three new levels:

  • Disability Confident Committed (Level 1) encouraging employers to start the journey;
  • Disability Confident Employer (Level 2) where employers are recruiting, retaining and developing disabled staff;
  • And Disability Confident Leader (Level 3) where they ensure they are helping others be Disability Confident too.

The scheme provides advice and guidance that employers can access as necessary, and encourages employers to share best practice, case studies and success stories.

Gareth Parry, Chief Executive of Remploy, a level 3 employer, said:

“I am immensely proud that Remploy has been awarded Disability Confident Leader status.  It is important to the delivery of our mission to transform the lives of disabled people through sustainable employment that we set an example of best practice as a business ourselves. At least 28 per cent of all Remploy colleagues, including at board level, are disabled. It is a key priority for us to ensure that disabled people see Remploy as a great place to work.”

Mike Adams, Chief Executive of Purple, also a level 3 employer, said:

“We are delighted to be one of the first Disability Confident Leaders. We understand disability is an issue that matters to business, and the recruitment and retention of disabled people is a vital part of a successful organisation. We look forward to supporting other businesses to become Disability Confident with support of Purple.”

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation is using its position as the professional body for UK recruitment businesses to encourage employers from all sectors to get involved.

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy REC, said about the scheme:

“People transform businesses and jobs transform lives. Dismantling barriers and misperceptions about hiring disabled people is not just the right thing to do, it’s also a way to address candidate shortages faced by employers in many sectors.

“Recruiters have a responsibility to advocate to their clients the social and business benefits of building an inclusive and diverse workforce. Many REC members are already stepping up and making a tangible difference. We’re very proud to support the Disability Confident scheme which will play a pivotal role in raising awareness.”

Channel 4’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and the broadcaster’s Board Diversity Champion, Dan Brooke, said:

“Channel 4 is extremely proud to be part of the Disability Confident scheme which chimes with everything Channel 4 stands for. Our ambition is to be an employer that disabled people proactively seek to join because they know they will be appreciated for the talent, expertise and creativity they can bring to our organisation.”

By giving employers the tools and techniques to help them recruit, retain and develop more disabled people, Disability Confident will be an important contributor towards the Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap.

The news comes after the publication of the Work and Health Green Paper earlier this week, which announced the creation of a Disability Confident Business Leaders Group to work alongside Ministers and officials to increase employer engagement around disabled employment, starting with FTSE 250 companies.

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