I recently heard Paralympian Georgie Bullen speak at an event celebrating International Women’s Day. Despite being partially sighted, Georgie has gone above and beyond to overcome adversity. Almost 70% of blind or partially sighted people in the UK alone are unemployed. Georgie now runs www.Team-Insight.co.uk, and spends her time fighting for blind and partially sighted people to be given the same opportunities as those without disabilities.

It brought home to me that the recruitment process often overlooks or eliminates talent. There are plenty of bright, capable people (such as Georgie) who have a physical disability and are actively seeking a meaningful career. Yet employers often don’t understand those disabilities, and simply choose not to go there.

It’s not just those with disabilities that make up the UK’s greatest untapped pool of talent. Despite the pressures on companies to hire diversely, women and ethnic minorities continue to fight for equal opportunities.

How can we complain that there is a skills shortage with such a wealth of talent sitting right in front of us?

It’s time for companies to open their eyes (and their minds) to talent.

To achieve parity, acceptance and diversity takes a lot of change management. And of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. Coaching hiring managers and teams on unconscious bias and how it affects their decision-making is one way for people to start to embrace diversity, see and act differently. It’s not a quick fix.

Unconscious bias is more common than you may imagine.

We all have unconscious biases. What are they? The snap judgments that our minds make about people, places, situations… These biases are created based on our upbringing, background, life experiences, culture and more.

In hiring, unconscious bias can lead to us wanting to hire someone ‘like us’. But is someone with the same skills, background and expertise really the right person for the job? Often the answer is no. Rather than hiring based on who we would like to go for a drink with, we need to focus on hiring for talent. Regardless of ethnicity, sex, or disabilities.

Build your diverse workforce, with support.

Don’t be afraid of difference. Hiring a disabled candidate who has the skills, motivation and drive to do the job could be the best hiring decision you will ever make! Sign your company up to the Government’s Disability Confident scheme, and make the adaptations needed in order to hire confidently, and based on talent alone. By doing this, you’ll be able to attract top talent that is being rejected elsewhere and gain a competitive advantage.

As workplaces embrace sustainable ways to develop more inclusive, diverse workplaces, there will be less hiring mistakes, less staff turnover and fewer untapped pools of talent. Sounds good, right?

If you need support making your recruitment strategy diverse and inclusive, reach out to Katherine on 01223 659988 or via email.