I asked several experts to share their answers to the question –
“What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to a disabled student who is nervous speaking to an employer about workplace support?”
We’re very lucky that people gave up their time to help out, and here are their answers:
Julian John, Managing Director, Delsion
“Do what you can to help employers better understand how they can best support you. Remember, that you’re the expert in knowing what you need. Try not to feel nervous as all you’re doing is helping an employer put in place what is needed for you to do a great job and be a great employee. Organisations are becoming more and more engaged around workplace adjustments and there are also a number of organisations out there to help them as well. This is isn’t about proving whether you can do the job, it’s about what you need to do it.”
Julian is the founder and director of Delsion, a national RIDI Award winning People & Development organisation and is one the Shaw Trust’s 100 most influential disabled people in the UK in 2018. Delsion’s website can be found here, while Julian’s LinkedIn profile can be viewed here.
Dawn Hurst, Partner, EA Inclusion
“The advice I would give is to be clear on what solution you need, employers to be fair generally want to support but don’t know how …, so if the solution is clearly presented to them it makes the process much simpler. Be confident in the approach and be reasonable as to what an employer can provide – in return they get your amazing talents.”
Dawn is a partner at EA Inclusion, a global specialist provider in delivering programmes to embed inclusion. Dawn has won awards for her work, including for the Return on Inclusion tool used to measure the impact of inclusive best practise on organisation. EA Inclusion’s website can be found here, Dawn’s LinkedIn profile can be viwed here.
Helen De Bretton, Director of Corporate Services at Microlink
“ In the ideal world, if you have a disability, then it will be discovered, assessed and supported throughout your education, you will have knowledge about assistive tech and practical adjustments that help you. Therefore when disclosing to an employer, a person has a good idea of any potential impacts at work and can provide a solution to the employer. I.e I am ….dyslexic, the impact is… but if i use this software/strategy then barriers are removed. This helps the employer and shows a proactive practical attitude.
If your disability does not directly impact the work you will be doing, disclosing is unnecessary. But if it does, then disclosing is massively important upfront. In reality, the chances are the employer will not know what to do. Larger employers may have a workplace adjustment process in place, but this mustn’t be assumed – I have consulted with countless over the years. The majority of employers want to do the right thing, but don’t understand the condition, impacts or know how to manage/support or provide adjustments.
In an ideal world, students should know the business they are applying to, if disability is on their radar, understand Access to Work funding and how to start a claim.”
Helen is director of coporate services at Microlink PC, and has 20 years’ experience in assistive technology and disability. Helen is the architect of an award winning workplace adjustment services used by large UK and global organisations. Microlink’s website can be found here, while Helen’s Linkedin profile can be viewed here.
Kate Headley, Director, The Clear Company
“Couple of things to consider here… one is the confidence to request support to ensure the best possible chance of performing well and getting a job offer. The next stage, having achieved this, is making sure you have the right support in place to perform well, enjoy the experience and be safe at work. In both cases the key is to be well informed on the process and on the role so you are in a good position to assess your support requirements.
Check out the employer website for their commitment to diversity and disability and in particular see if they have an adjustment or support policy that you can follow. Employers by law are not able to discuss workplace adjustments before a job offer has been made so be sure to focus the application process on adjustments to make it accessible for you.
Always try to focus the conversation on your abilities, the impact of your disability within the workplace and how often minor adjustments can ensure you reach your full potential. Presenting solutions and opportunity rather than feeling like you are a problem is a helpful mindset for the candidate as well as the employer. Although it is the law for employers to provide support , they are not always as informed or confident as they could be and may need a little guidance. Looking to employers who display the governments Disability Confident Employer logo is a useful start.”
Kate is Co-founder and CEO of the Clear Company, established 2003. In 2019 the Clear Company has a global reputation as recognised leaders of inclusive recruitment and talent management insight, training and technology and celebrate the launch of Clear Assured. An HR Software platform, it drives change by giving users direction and support in working to an Accredited Standard. Incorporates the latest D&I expertise and evidence. Kate is a Government advisor on disability and diversity and serves on the external ‘Panel of Experts’ to the UK Cabinet Office. She is a founder partner of The Government’s Disability Confident Campaign. In November 2018 she was invited to join the Civil Service, Diverse Leadership Taskforce. Clear Company’s website can be found here, while Kate’s LinkedIn profile can be found here.