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Looking Beyond Disability

Become a disability confident employer and tap into a pool of skilled talent.

 Last year, we were delighted to win the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) award for Getting Started. RIDI work to break down the barriers faced by disabled people entering or progressing through the workplace while promoting disability confidence within recruitment. It’s a cause that Kelly is passionate about supporting and we are thrilled to be nominated again this year for the RIDI award for Reasonable Adjustments in Recruitment.

It’s reported that 18% of working age adults have a registered disability and that just a 10 percentage point rise in the employment rate amongst disabled adults would contribute an extra £12 billion to the Exchequer by 2030. With this in mind what can employers and recruiters do to provide accessible employment opportunities? We spoke to Louise Pask, Operations Manager for Kelly Services, UK and Ireland, to find out what it takes to become a disability confident employer or recruiter.


One of the ways Kelly has supported changing attitudes to disability amongst colleagues and clients is through education. By promoting a viewpoint that sees the person and the skills first, we all help to create more inclusive recruitment and employment practices. Supporting disabled candidates and employees has to be more than a tick box exercise, driven by regulations. It has to be a complete shift in attitude and approach.

Louise describes working with clients to drive change, “it’s about being open and consultative, helping people understand that there are many disabled people who can add value in exactly the same way someone without disabilities can.”

Louise also argues that there is a strong business case for increasing the number of disabled people in the workforce. She says, “I think it makes business sense to engage with all candidates who are skilled to work. It's crazy to not tap into this resource! There is a talent shortage out there and we have got people who happen to have a disability who are perfectly capable if not more than capable of adding significant value to your business. So why not?!”


Another common misconception that Kelly tackles is the cost attached to hiring disabled people. In reality, the investment to make adjustments for a disabled candidate or employee is often very small. The Skills for Care and Development Council found that the average cost of adjustments to an employer is just £80.

Louise explains that simply asking what a person needs goes a long way, but it’s a question that recruiters and employers are often afraid of asking. “People are very worried about what they can and can’t ask. I always say to people just ask the candidate what they need to be successful. On a case by case basis you're asking the candidate what you can do to support their needs. In the most part, it's very simple, inexpensive things that people require.” 

It’s also important to understand that each individual with a disability will have different and unique needs. Louise says, “the important thing is not to think that because you've employed one person with particular needs that the next person with the same condition will have exactly the same needs. You have to take a personal approach.”


Kelly Services has begun its journey to become a disability confident employer, and the government’s Disability Confidentscheme can help employers and recruiters understand how they can make both the workplace and recruitment process more inclusive. But being truly disability confident means driving cultural as well as practical changes. Through training, policy, leadership, and culture, Kelly Services strive to create a disability confident workplace at every level.

Louise outlines the Kelly approach, “it’s a misconception that people with disabilities can't add value. As an organisation we fundamentally disagree with this view. We try to change mindsets and practices through speaking to our clients and connecting with disabled candidates. I think that can be really powerful. Change can be difficult and sometimes slow, but it is happening.”

The RIDI awards ceremony will take place on the 15th March 2018 and you can find out more about RIDI and how your organisation can get involved on their website.