Commitment, Confidence, disability, Employability, employers, Schemes

The Disability Confident scheme explained

Familiar with Zbigniew Brzezinski (above)? No, neither am I. That said, he has a quote attributed to him which I very much agree with: “Commitment and credibility go hand in hand.” It’s with that in mind that I decided to find out more about the Disability Confident scheme, the logo of which I’ve seen on some company websites.

In all likelihood, either you haven’t heard of Disability Confident or you’re not sure what a company actually needs to do to be in this scheme.

If you have a disability, is it worthwhile applying to a Disability Confident employer?

Also, who are these employers?

Let’s answer these questions by first exploring


The website says that the scheme “supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the workplace.”

It goes on to say that through Disability Confident “…thousands of employers are:

  • Challenging attitudes towards disability
  • Increasing understanding of disability
  • Removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions…”

Disability Confident image


In 2016, the Disability Confident scheme replaced the “Two Ticks” scheme (sometimes referred to as “positive about disabled people”). Two Ticks was a scheme whereby an employer signing up would agree to follow five commitments, one of which was to interview any disabled applicant who met the minimum criteria for a job vacancy. The perception was that only some employers kept to their word, with many paying lip service to the commitments; this played a role in it being scrapped.


According to the latest figures (taken from the website, October 2018), there are 8347 employers across the UK that have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. These include large companies and SMEs, ranging across a number of sectors.

This relatively new scheme has been met with scepticism from some quarters. One of the reasons for this is because of self-assessment. Let’s come back to that in a moment.

I didn’t realise this but all employers in this scheme are all at one of three levels:

Level 3: Disability Confident Leader (around 150 companies)

Level 2: Disability Confident Employer (roughly 3000 companies)

Level 1: Disability Confident Committed (about 5000 companies)

Therefore, the majority of employers signed up to this scheme are at the lowest of the three levels: Committed. To reach this standard, an employer does not need to have any external validation meaning they self-assess their own commitments. (Employers receive a template with some suggested criteria that they can fill out in order to keep a record, but this is just for their use). The same goes for the next level standard: Employer.

Those companies at Level 3 (Disability Confident Leader) do have external validation though and also have to evidence what they have done to meet this standard. They are few in number but seem to be particularly well-placed in terms of structures and may well be knowledgeable about, and have experience of, things like reasonable adjustments.

Organisations in this scheme benefit from being able to put the Disability Confident symbol on their website, giving the impression to their staff (and to the outside world) that they are positive about the area of disability and that they are keen to recruit and retain disabled employees.

We know that whilst individuals within companies may well have a commitment to disability (which is great) it’s actually something that needs to be institution-wide for the commitment to be long-lasting and for approaches to be changed for the better. The right policies and attitudes need to be in situ right across an organisation for disabled employees to feel valued and motivated.

The claim that through the Disability Confident scheme, thousands of companies are “challenging attitudes towards disability” is certainly bold. No doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of companies across the UK are indeed challenging attitudes towards disability, but not all of them will be signed up to this scheme.


When I speak to a disabled student or graduate about their job search, I make the point that an employer who has the Disability Confident symbol on their website is an indication, but not a guarantee, that they are positive about employing disabled applicants and are committed to supporting their existing disabled employees.

 I would encourage students to look further:

  • Aside from having the symbol on their website, what else does that company do with respect to disability?
  • Does disability get a mention in their values?
  • What is at the heart of their Corporate Social Responsibility?
  • How many of their employees are disabled?

To find this out, students could contact the company HR / Diversity / Disability Department (if they have one), look on their website / social media platforms or speak to the company face-to-face at a job fair. This doesn’t mean the student needs to disclose their disability when they do this. It is reasonable for any applicant to want to research a company throughout the application process to get more information and see whether they think the company would be a good fit for them.

In addition to Disability Confident, The Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard has a roll of honour  which lists companies that are deemed to be “disability-smart”.


I take that view that whether you have a disability or not, if a company is signed up to (and hopefully committed to) schemes like Disability Confident, Stonewall, Athena Swan etc. then it suggests the company may well be inclusive, open-minded and non-judgemental. These are values and traits that would appeal to all applicants and employees, irrespective of whether you have a disability.

Just because somebody has a disability, it doesn’t mean that they have to apply to an employer who is signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. However, it might be that a Disability Confident employer already has the structures, attitudes or infrastructure in place to be the right employer for that person.

A last word on “Zbig” (Zbigniew Brzezinski). It seems he was a noteworthy and interesting person. At the end of this article, he explains his novel idea about how extra time in football could be revamped .


Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of Westminster

disability, Training course, Uncategorized

Leonard Cheshire Change 100: 3 months paid internship opportunities for disabled students

We wanted to make you aware of the Change100 employment programme. It is a programme for: ‘Talented students and graduates with disabilities or long-term health conditions — including physical, visual or hearing impairments, mental health conditions and learning disabilities and difficulties like dyslexia and dyspraxia.’


‘Change100 brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students and graduates to offer three months of paid work experience…

Since its launch in 2014, Change100 has partnered with over 90 employers across the UK to host interns including Barclays, the BBC, Skanska, Lloyds and Taylor Wimpey…

Change100 aims to broaden the public’s understanding of what disability is, as well as highlight the fact many disabled students are talented, ambitious, and would thrive in all business sectors.’


‘The key competencies which Change100 seeks to develop in its participants are customer focus, initiative, creative problem solving, communication, teamwork, resilience and time management…

Each participant is matched with a mentor, either in their own placement organisation or with another Change100 employer. Mentors are expected to dedicate at least six hours of time for six mentoring sessions across the programme year.’


‘Applications for summer 2019 internships open on Monday 24th September’


You can find information on applying via the Leonard Cheshire support page


The benefits of the programme can be found in statistics and testimonials


Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of West London


disability, Strategy

Worried about starting a new job? Pick an approach that works for you

I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I have had about starting a new job.  Since finishing University 10 years ago, I have had 3 jobs. Although everyone’s experience of starting a new job is different, I think these tips will help to keep things in perspective:

  • We all experience the first day in a new job. Everybody goes through being introduced to new people and (usually) instantly forgetting everyone’s name. Worrying about what to wear and where you’ll be sitting are part and parcel of starting a new job.
  • The reality is that it’s the long-lasting impression that you give your colleagues and your manager that matters, not just the impression you give during the initial few hours on your first day.
  • I have noticed that becoming familiar with your workplace, getting to know the people you are working with, and grasping what you’re supposed to be doing every day is a gradual process that takes time.

Picking an approach

I can’t think of a job where managing your own time and showing a bit of initiative isn’t really important. Making sure you cover the basics during the opening days and weeks of your new job will help to ensure that you are making a positive start. These basics include:

  • Being on time.
  • Having the frame of mind where you want to learn and take on board new information.
  • Asking questions and asking for help if you need to.

It’s undeniable that we all have our own individual worries about the different aspects of starting a new job.


My tip would be to focus on the 3 main worries you have before you start your new job. Pick an approach to deal with those 3 best you can, so instead of hoping they won’t come up, you will have thought of an approach to overcome those worries and you can start to focus on…

Your potential

Don’t overlook your strengths and potential to excel in your new role. It’s often easy to forget about the many great attributes that you have. Hard-working, loyalty, listening, perseverance, persistence, resilience and approachability are characteristics you already have that will help you overcome your worries about starting a new job.

Revisiting the job description, what you wrote on your application form or the answers you gave at interview are all ways of reminding yourself of your ability to do well in the job and can help you to identify your strengths and potential.

Do first impressions really count?

For most of us, we worry about how others might be viewing us when we first meet new people, particularly if that new person is a colleague or the manager.

It’s human nature to form an instant impression of someone when we first meet them. But that first impression will seldom be the same impression that we keep of that person forever…

Take my first impression of Dave. My first job after University was as a trainee Careers Adviser. I started that role alongside other people that I had never met before and, because we were all in training, much of the first weeks were spent together as a group.

On my first day, we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell everyone in the group a bit about our background. I was worried about this as I hadn’t had many jobs previously and had just finished University so didn’t feel I had anything particularly impressive to say. One of the first people to introduce themselves was Dave. He said…

“Well, before this I was working in the film and distribution industry.”

*When he said that, I remember thinking to myself that this person seemed confident and must have had good jobs in the past. I started rethinking what I should say when it was going to be my turn to introduce myself*

The trainer replied to Dave asking “The film and distribution industry -that’s interesting- what did that involve?”

With a cheeky expression on his face, Dave said, “Oh, I was serving popcorn and drinks in my local cinema.”

Remember the Picking an approach section in this blog? Well, thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure Dave (who is good friend of mine to this day) was nervous about meeting new people and was worried about being asked about what he had done in the past, in front of other people. He picked an approach that meant that he could deal with the situation in a way that worked for him.

Dave used humour, but the approach you pick might be to take some time away from your desk if you start to feel worried or anxious. It might be to read some positive words that you have written down, to call upon when you need to.

These approaches don’t cover all situations, but the important thing is to choose an approach that works for you.

It’s normal to feel unsure and to make mistakes when starting a new job. Everybody has their own apprehensions about it, but allowing yourself some time to get know new colleagues and reminding yourself of your strengths will really help.

That’s the end of this blog post but the eagled-eyed among you may have noticed that a few expressions and phrases have crept into this post…keep things in perspective, part and parcel, cover the basics…

Look out for a future blog post where I hope to untangle the confusing world of clichés and workplace jargon. Until then, thank you for reading this blog.

Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of West London