Finding an employer that will welcome you as you are, can sometimes feel like an enormous task. Fortunately, the world of employment has evolved and although not perfect, it is a much more supportive place than ever before. Many employers have staff networks and schemes to recruit a more diverse workforce, quite rightly believing that this is the way to improve and strengthen their organisation.
This page will help you find out how you are protected by the law (The Equality Act 2010) and the specialist organisations and schemes able to support your job search, applications and opportunities available to you in addition to the support provided by the University’s Careers Team.
If you do not have a disability but concerned you may face discrimination in recruitment (due to, for example, your ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation) scroll down for the section on ‘Inclusivity’ where you will find a list of organisations that will offer specific advice and support including schemes designed to recruit employees from under-represented areas.
Please note: Legally, everyone is protected by law and therefore has the right to fair, non-discriminatory recruitment practices. These organisations and schemes are for those students who would like to explore any specialist support available. Please let us know if you find others that we could add to our list!
Fairness in Recruitment
An employer must make sure disabled people will be able to apply for their vacancies. This includes asking disabled applicants whether they need any ‘reasonable adjustments’, often called ‘access requirements’, for any part of the recruitment process. An employer must not reject a disabled applicant because it would have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’.
Financial Support for disabled employees
The Government’s Access to Work scheme, is there to provide financial support for disabled employees who might require specific equipment (for example, specialist software, standing desk etc) or services (for example, taxis to work as public transport isn’t viable). It is certainly worth knowing some details about this scheme and being prepared to inform employers about the available support if they are concerned about additional costs.
Deciding if you want to tell an employer about your disability
Deciding to disclose your disability to an employer is a matter of personal choice. You are under no legal obligation to do so, and it's for you to choose if and when you disclose. You may wish to disclose if you need any adjustments to help accommodate your disability, either at the application stage or during your day-to-day work.
Once you've told an employer about your disability, you're protected by the Equality Act 2010. This means your employer must take all reasonable steps to provide the necessary adjustments and mustn't discriminate against you because of your disability. You can also tell an employer about your disability once you have started to work for them, there isn’t a time restraint on this.
How to tell an employer about your physical or mental disability
You are the expert in your disability and knowing what you need. Always emphasise the positive aspects of your disability and calmly deal with any stereotypical perceptions straight off. The AGCAS Disability Task Group has produced some resources on disclosure and adjustments for students with neurodiversity conditions (e.g. dyslexia, autism, ADHD etc), along with a worksheet on Explaining Mental Health. You can also download worksheets for Disclosing Neurodiversity, Explaining Your Mental Health Condition, and Reasonable Adjustments for Neurodiversity.
Identifying disabled friendly employers
- Look for job adverts and application forms carrying the 'disability confident' symbol or 'positive about disability' symbol. These show that an employer has signed up to commitments on disability and long-term health conditions.
- Check the employers’ website for a policy statement on equal opportunities and profiles of employees with a disability, including staff networks.
- Members of the Business Disability Forum and supporters of the Mindful Employer ‘Charter for Employers who are Positive about Mental Health’ recognise the benefits of a diverse workforce. Both websites have a full list of supporting employers, including those from IT and telecoms, media, manufacturing, education, financial services and local government.
- Look out for employers with application forms that are available in alternative formats, and encourage applicants to say what adjustments can be made to help them during the recruitment process.
- Don't limit yourself to applying only to organisations that publicise their commitments to diversity. A lack of publicity doesn't mean they're not inclusive employers. Make your application based on the opportunities available and how those opportunities match your own skills and interests.
There are many organisations out there promoting opportunities for students and graduates who may feel discriminated in the workplace for one reason or another. We have tried to list the most relevant organisations that advertise either work experience and actual job vacancies or relevant advice. If you come across others that you think are useful, please let us know.