When it comes to disability, there are so many things that need to change in order to improve outcomes for disabled and neurodivergent individuals. In my opinion, one of these has to be the Disability Confident system which replaced the two ticks, positive about disability scheme a few years ago. There are still so many disparities in the opportunities across the UK. One of the things that really highlighted this for me was seeing statistics from the organisation, Exceptional Individuals, who are experts within the neurodiversity space.
Many people would probably guess that of all the regions in the UK, Greater London has one of the highest number of disability confident organisations, but few might be aware that the second highest is West Yorkshire. However, these are regions in the UK that seem to have that extra commitment across employers and where disabled jobseekers and employees get those extra levels of opportunity, and therefore the population within those regions could showcase more ambition in their day to day lives. This is because they know where to go to get effective employment support to start off with, and where the best opportunities for work would be available.
Addressing such disparity and ensuring every disabled person who wants to work (and progress within work) has the same opportunity to do so is something about which we at Enrych are passionate. We want to ensure that every school leaver has exactly the same opportunity to work and live independently. As such the team at Enrych have been making connections, in particular with local SEN schools, to provide support for their students as they come towards the end of their educational journey and face the transition into adulthood. However this is just one small part of the job that needs to be done. We need to educate employers about the benefits of inclusive workplaces, dispelling myths about the cost and extent of support requirements. Having recently achieved Disability Confident Leader status ourselves we know we have an obligation to lead the way in terms of good practice.
While we are incredibly proud that our practices as an employer have gained us this status, we are keen to share how we make Enrych the inclusive place that it is. We want to see more organisations becoming Disability Confident. For me though, the first two elements of the accreditation need to be switched around. First should come Disability Confident Employer, evidencing what’s in place, with step two being Disability Confident Committed, because this would then showcase how commitment is embedded across the organisation . This is surely the logical approach. Before you are a committed organisation, you are an organisation.
It is also important that there is a Disability Confident Leader organisation in each industry sector in each region of the UK. This would help to remove the disparities and instead create a culture where there are no shortage of opportunities for any job seeker in the world of employment. There simply has to be a streamlined and connected pathway to these things. If there isn’t the same attitude or same energy to having the same number of Disability Confident organisations in each region of the UK, there will be a large number of people unable to achieve the career of their choice or, potentially, full independence.
Once this kind of approach exists, it would ensure there are more expert organisations in the disability space who could support learner organisations to become fully accessible for disabled people. Not only would learning from the experts make the learner organisations places people would want to work, this would also increase business prospects massively, as making things inclusive for employees, goes hand in hand with making things accessible for customers as well. In an ideal world we would love to see happen. Of course, these things don’t happen overnight, but with some changes to the way the system operates, we, as well as other disabled people’s organisations, can spark sustainable change long into the future.