Graduate Recruiters' Disability Cafe: helping recruiters benefit from talented disabled graduates


Originally published by The Guardian

In 2011, 9.5% of first class degrees were awarded to disabled graduates, yet these individuals continue to struggle to secure places on graduate programmes.

To understand why, and address this imbalance, recruiters need to question all aspects of their recruitment processes to understand whether they are unintentionally excluding disabled applicants.

On 29 February, My Plus Consulting hosted more than 40 delegates for a Graduate Recruiter’s Disability Café to look at how uniform recruitment processes may potentially exclude otherwise talented individuals from roles which they are more than competent of fulfilling.

During the event delegates had the opportunity to explore the unintentional barriers that exist in recruitment processes and to understand how these can be addressed. They also looked at how different interview techniques may be more suited to enabling disabled applicants to demonstrate their potential.

Following the same format as previous Disability Cafes, delegates listened to key note speakers share their insights and expertise into these issues before participating in rounds of cafe style discussions. During these discussions delegates were asked to consider what changes may be required to their own recruitment processes to ensure they were inclusive. They also considered what the impact on diversity could be as a result of such changes. All of the discussions were brilliantly captured by a graphic recorder.

This Disability Café is one of a series of events that are delivered by Helen Cooke, director of My Plus Consulting.

Helen is recognised as the UK’s leading expert in graduate recruitment and disability issues. Her refreshing approach to the challenges of attracting and recruiting disabled graduates comes from her background of working in graduate recruitment for Mars Inc combined with first hand experience of disability. Helen is in a wheelchair as a result of a childhood spinal tumour.

In 2010 My Plus Consulting launched the Graduate Recruiter’s Disability Café Club (GRDCC). Its purpose is to help those involved in graduate recruitment achieve real progress around attracting, recruiting and developing disabled graduates.

The GRDCC recognises that disabled graduates want to be treated as equals to their non-disabled peers. It works with members to build their knowledge and confidence enabling them to engage directly with disabled graduates and to process them through their standard recruitment processes.

Members of the GRDCC grow their knowledge through events and seminars; these provide the opportunity to discuss complex issues and share best practice with others facing similar challenges.

Disability Cafés are at the core of the GRDCC and in the past year have covered topics such as understanding your target market, inclusive recruitment, and attraction and marketing. The interactive design enables participants to discuss the real issues they are facing and to take away practical solutions and advice that they can implement in their own organisations. There is also the opportunity to learn from disabled graduates who share first hand experiences.

Going forward, the GRDCC will continue to deliver useful and practical events designed to help graduate recruiters move towards their goals of attracting and recruiting all talented graduates and ensuring that no-one is excluded for whatever reason.