Annette Keay: It’s not just ‘The Right Thing To Do’ – it’s what’s right for our business
Annette Keay from Cumbernauld-based construction business Indeglas outlines why the firm has signed up to the Disability Confident scheme.
When we heard about the Disability Confident scheme, it just made sense to sign up. As a place to work, Indeglas has always focused on creating an inclusive environment where everyone is treated equally. This allows employees to work to their fullest potential, which is what gets the best results for the business.
Jeanette, our managing director, asked me to help lead the company on our Disability Confident journey. As part of that, I went to an event in June organised by the local arm of the Department for Work and Pensions in Motherwell.
We covered all the basics for the Level 1 accreditation that Indeglas received in July 2019: how to ensure our recruitment processes are inclusive and accessible; how to promote vacancies among disabled candidates; and how to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates during an interview.
I was surprised to discover that everything we were talking about applied to a number of existing staff at Indeglas, Type I diabetes was amongst the many conditions that the Disability Confident programme seeks to address and we have a member of staff with this condition.
In the past there has always been a stigma attached to employing people with disabilities, with the assumption that they will be off work much more than a “normal” employee.
I can count on one hand the number of times the individual with Type 1 diabetes has been off ill during the last seven years at Indeglas. As for routine medical appointments, our flexible working policy allows all members of staff to take the time they need to care for themselves.
Flexibility is the key to attracting and retaining good workers, so it’s just common sense to carry that through to its natural conclusion and extend that adaptive approach to every existing and potential employee.
There are currently about 7.7 million people of working age in the UK who have a disability – a total of 19% of the working population. The rate of unemployment for this group is 7.3% (compared to 3.4% for those without disabilities), but the more staggering fact is that 3.3 million of them are “economically inactive” (not in work, and not looking for work).
That’s an economic inactivity rate of 43.3%, versus the corresponding figure of 15.6% for those without disabilities.
What it amounts to is a considerable percentage of potential talent going to waste. As an expanding operation, Indeglas can’t afford to rule out candidates on the basis of false assumptions, nor through any oversights or failures in our recruitment process.
About a year ago we engaged with Lanarkshire Supported Employment Services as we hoped to offer the role of assistant trainee estimator to an individual who may require additional support to enter the world of work. That was a year ago and the member of staff appointed has evolved into a valuable member at Indeglas, though we might have overlooked them had it not been for our involvement in Disability Confident.
Being inclusive isn’t just “the right thing to do” – it’s also what’s best for our business. It’s still early days in our Disability Confident journey, but the road ahead is full of many further opportunities.
- Annette Keay is accounts supervisor at specialist glazing contractor Indeglas, which employs sixteen people from its headquarters in Cumbernauld