Mitigating Circumstances Or A Load Of Rubbish?

Graduate Recruiter’s Breakfast Seminar 5 (BS’5)
Hosted by BAE Systems

On the 15th August, 2012 members of the Graduate Recruiters Disability Café Club (GRDCC) met at BAE Systems’ office for the fifth Breakfast Seminar; events which are run exclusively for GRDCC members. The goal of this seminar was for recruiters to discuss practical methods for addressing mitigating circumstances involving disability. Attendees were challenged to learn from one another, discovering useful techniques to better understand and consider disability-related mitigating circumstances.

To start the discussion, Sheekha Rajani, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at BAE Systems, welcomed the attendees and explained how BAE generally tends to view mitigating circumstances related to disability. Next, Helen Cooke, Director of My Plus Consulting, offered the group a common starting place for the discussions by defining ‘mitigating circumstances’ as ‘reasons or events that prevent a student from obtaining expected results or fitting selection criteria.’ From this foundation, the attendees were able to build discussions regarding the best ways to handle applicants who cite various mitigating circumstances.

David Blomfield, partner and employment lawyer at Draper Lang, offered insights into common mistakes in recruitment processes. He argued that inviting applicants to disclose mitigating circumstances can often lead to trouble for firms, and that it might be more useful for applicants and firms alike to differentiate between non-disability related mitigating circumstances and mitigating circumstances that are related to disability. Firms tend to take disability-related mitigating circumstances more seriously and differentiating between these two types would help applicants and recruiters pay more attention to disability-related mitigating circumstances.

In small groups attendees discussed various case studies concerning applicants whom cited different disability-related mitigating circumstances, such as cerebral palsy, anxiety disorder, and dyslexia. The groups discussed how best to accommodate the hypothetical applicants, sometimes coming to a consensus and at other times debating the merits of different perspectives.

At the conclusion of the small-group discussions it was clear that addressing mitigating circumstances is a great challenge for firms.  It was also clear that attendees had learnt a great deal from each other and as well as from the industry experts who spoke during the Breakfast Seminar.