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Ready to tap into disability talent? An introduction to disability & recruitment



Hosted by Enterprise Holdings

Our hosts Enterprise Holdings introduced this morning’s Workshop by providing an interesting insight into their approach to Disability. Their Diversity focus being driven from top down with executive members owning different diversity streams. Jeff King, who represented Enterprise, heads up their European IT and is one of four execs owning their Disability focus. Jeff showed video examples of 2 employees with disabilities who provided perfect examples which we linked back to throughout the session.

The Workshop was led by Helen Cooke, Director of MyPlus and was aimed at building the confidence and ability of the delegates to attract and recruit disabled students, and ensure they are appropriately supported throughout the recruitment process and that adjustments are efficiently implemented.  The session followed an interactive format of group discussions with the wisdom of Helen’s experience concluding each area, allowing delegates to think through and discuss the areas, sharing knowledge and drawing on their own experiences.

With progressive employers recognising that if they really want to attract and recruit the very best talent they have to be truly inclusive; which obviously includes those who have a disability. Employers continue to say that disability is the area where they struggle to increase the diversity of their graduate intakes. However recruiting disabled students isn’t actually that hard as this Workshop demonstrated. As with any target group there needs to be understanding, a plan of action and effective execution.

In the first part of the workshop delegates discussed what we actually mean by disability. Whilst it is difficult to categorise disability there are 7 different areas; mobility, sensory, mental health, learning difficulties, developmental, progressive and severe disfigurement that they typically fall into. With the percentage of students now having a disability growing to 13%, employers need to understand this talent pool if they don’t want to miss out. Disabled candidates will all have the same challenges and questions as their non-disabled counterparts plus potentially others. Other challenges may include can I do the job, what support will be available and what will I be asked.

Based on some research carried out back in 2015, MyPlus discovered that a staggering 76% of candidates did not want to disclose their disability to potential managers. The greatest concern was the fear of being discriminated against. So why are applicants so reluctant to disclose their disability? Discussions highlighted some other key observations such as the possibility that the candidates do not see their conditions as a disability, they may not feel comfortable sharing their disability, they do not want to be perceived as weak or the fact that they are unaware of what support they require.

After considering the barriers and blockers that exist in the recruitment process under the areas of strategy, attraction, language and knowledge the groups moved on to consider recruitment adjustments and what is reasonable. How effective the adjustment is in preventing the disadvantage, how practical it is, whether it is disruptive and financially viable are all factors to consider.

These factors were all put into practice when the groups discussed interview scenarios, taking into consideration what adjustments may be required by the disabled candidate to ensure they are able to achieve their potential. The Workshop concluded by looking at ‘doing the right things’ around language, behaviour and etiquette and considered questions that you can and can’t ask in an interview.

Throughout the Workshop there were some key messages that were highlighted and reiterated:

  • You don’t have to be an expert in every disability
  • Engage in conversation
  • The individual is the expert in their disability
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Often there is no right or wrong answer
  • Take a common-sense approach


“One of the most valuable sessions I have attended. I learnt some great life lessons.”
“I gained a much better understanding of the subject as a whole. It was very thought provoking.”
“I liked Helen’s honesty about the subject and how personable she is. The event provided a great overview of the subject.”
“The mixture of information on power point, talking from an expert and the discussion element in groups, meant I will really make the most of the session.”

Our next MyPlus Recruiters’ Club event on the 7th of March is a Disability Café and will explore one of the elements of the recruitment process discussed today in more depth. Helen will share her expertise around ‘Attraction’ and what does and doesn’t work when it comes to engaging with disabled graduates. This will include areas such as website content, inclusive engagement events, partnerships on campus and engaging collateral. For more information on this event and other forthcoming Recruiters’ Club events have a look at our events page