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de Poel Community celebrates two years of DWP's Disability Confident Initiative

Many things can impact a candidate’s employability. Sometimes the reasons can be straightforward and relatively simple to address, such as when they lack necessary professional certificates or accreditation.

But at other times, a candidate might be wrongly considered less employable because they have a disability or a mental health condition, or because they have been unemployed for a period of time. Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, can unfairly exclude perfectly qualified candidates, simply because they don’t fit an existing idea or company culture.

Working towards an inclusive workforce can rule out some of the inequalities that still in exist in many workplaces today, which will have a positive impact on both employees and businesses as a whole. Research has shown that employees become more motivated and productive when they work in an environment where everyone is treated equally, and where the individual talents and skills of all workers are valued.

Additionally, inclusive workplaces cause an increase in diversity not just diversity of skills and attributes, but of thought and perspective too. This forms the basis of fresh ideas, new ways of doing things and the development of a stronger brand reputation.

Addressing this widespread issue in July 2013, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched a national campaign with David Cameron, entitled Disability Confident. Disability Confident’s key message is to turn good intentions into tangible actions the initiative aims to improve employment opportunities for disabled people, whilst removing the barriers that prevent them from gaining employment. Not only does inclusive recruitment increase the number of high quality applicants for a post, it creates a workforce that accurately reflects the diversity of its customer base, bringing additional skills, experience and views to a business.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith commented “The Prime Minister launched Disability Confident two years ago to highlight the clear, undeniable business benefits of recruiting disabled people. The success of the campaign is clear to see and I want to thank the businesses which have responded so enthusiastically.

“I want everyone to have the chance to benefit from the independence and security of a pay packet. By continuing our efforts, we can give more disabled people that opportunity enabling them to lead full and independent lives and fulfil their career ambitions.”

Research shows that employers hold the key to successful job outcomes for disabled people, but that they are “afraid” of the word & lsquo;disability’. The campaign is working not only to dispel such myths, but create confidence and understanding through collectively sharing skills and knowledge. 

In the last year alone 238,000 more disabled people entered into the workforce, the equivalent of around 650 people every day.

Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People, commented “The attitudes of employers are changing as they wake up to the fact that treating disabled people fairly isn’t just the right thing to do – it makes business sense too.

“The most successful businesses are those with the most committed and talented workforces – and no business can achieve that without being alive to the skills that the millions of disabled people in the UK have to offer.

“This second anniversary of the campaign is our opportunity to push on and do more. I want all businesses to recognise that diverse workplaces are stronger workplaces.”

Sharing the initiative’s vision and ambition to change the way disabled people are employed in the UK, and the perceptions of employer and recruitment agencies, de Poel Community is proud to be supporting the MP-led Disability Confident events. Managing Director Janice Henson commented “The events are engaging local employers, charities, local authorities and government bodies to understand how extending their recruitment talent pool and employing a diverse workforce will benefit their business.

“Since the Disability Confident initiative was introduced, de Poel Community has impacted the lives of more than 3,000 job seekers facing barriers to work, helping them to find sustainable employment. In 2014 alone, 1,764 job seekers completed employability courses with de Poel Community, 72% of whom successfully secured a job offer at the end. We ran 190 courses nationally, with 80% of employers booking a second course.

“To fulfil our goal of creating a more inclusive society, we actively collaborate with many like-minded businesses, agencies and initiatives, such as Disability Confident. Not only is the initiative and work we are doing as a collective inspiring other businesses to reassess their approach to inclusion and employability, the results are tangible.”

Looking to the future, de Poel Community’s aim is to generate further positive change, in our aligned vision with DWP. By dispelling myths for many more employers and recruitment agencies and making them aware of the support and funding available, Disability Confident is helping this audience to realise that these candidates want to work and would be an asset to any organisation. 

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