Understanding Disabilities In Relation To Work

Graduate Recruiter’s Breakfast Seminar 11 (BS’11)
Hosted by Citi

On 7th August 2014, the members of the Graduate Recruiters Disability Café Club (GRDCC) met up to take part in the eleventh Breakfast Seminar. Whereas previous Disability Cafes and Breakfast Seminars had discussed disabilities in general, the focus of this Seminar was on specific disabilities, and how these affected students’ lives in terms of university living, academic study and employment. Over 20 graduate recruiters attended, to listen to the personal experiences of 5 disabled students and graduates.

Helen Cooke, Director of My Plus Consulting, opened the event and gave a brief overview of the plan for the event – each student was sit at a table and lead that table’s discussions. Graduate recruiters were to move from table to table throughout on the event to ensure that they heard from every student. They were advised, too, not to all move together, but to mix it up so they generated a good blend of questions. After that, Helen stepped back and let the students lead the discussions.

Students spoke about the nature of their disabilities and the impact they have on their daily living and university life.  They also spoke about their disabilities in relation to employment - e.g. whether they disclose their disabilities when applying to jobs or going through the recruitment process, how they choose to communicate their needs to employers etc. Several also discussed the types of adjustments in the workplace they needed, or thought they would need in the future.

Afterwards, Helen drew the discussions to a close and asked the delegates what had stood out for them. Norton Rose Fulbright’s Sacha de Klerk took the opportunity to mention how tiring living with a disability seemed to be, while Citi’s Hannah Austin said she came away from the talks convinced that disability had encouraged the students to be more driven and entrepreneurial. Several others also raised points, such as how the event had taught them how they could better target their services to disabled applicants.

Citi, the hosts, were filming the Seminar for a tie-in video for their website, and afterwards were interested in filming interviews with a handful of recruiters and students. Disabled student Megan Field, currently an MSc student at Loughborough University, also took audio records of the discussions as part of her thesis on disability and disclosure. Another student, Jonathan Andrews from King’s College London, provided the recruiters with some extra reading on the subject of disability and employment by handing out a booklet he’d written for the event called ‘Autism and the Workplace: Hidden Myths and Untapped Talents’.

Many thanks to Citi, who kindly hosted the Breakfast Seminar, having previously hosted the thirteenth Disability Café in June. Many thanks also to Motability, who were the original hosts for the event and who very generously stepped aside to allow Citi to film.

> read more about Autisum in the workplace