Author: Marilyn Lennon, Principal Consultant
Those of those who know me well, will know that I am besotted with my dog Ellie, a Dogue de Bordeaux.
The lack of similarity with this stubborn and slobbery breed to that of the highly trained Labrador used by Guide Dogs NSW was highlighted when I attended a seminar run by our partner agency, Beaumont People, where they had a guest speaker from Guide Dogs. NSW.
As possibly Sydney’s most experienced hands-on recruiter (continually since 1980!!) I’ve always prided myself on providing a level playing field for all applicants regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or age. However, I could count on one hand the number of candidates with a significant disabilities I’ve placed over my career and this seminar gave me pause for thought. Do I provide appropriate opportunities for disabled candidates to shine?
This seminar brought home to me the difficulties and challenges facing those in our community who are either blind or vision impaired, where the unemployment rate is 28%. There are a variety of challenges in entering and maintaining employment which can include: access to jobs, advertisements and information about opportunities, engaging with recruiters and hiring managers, accessing workplaces for interviews and employment and finally, the absence of an inclusive onboarding process and ongoing support.
Then of course, there are barriers to obtaining meaningful and long term work that may include where the interviewer may have an unconscious bias, or physical challenges such as how to find a workplace, overcoming challenges with the local surrounds, such as construction, roadworks, tree branches and uneven pathways.
Thankfully now, technology enables many vision impaired people to get around with the use of Google maps, along with a trusty Guide Dog, but here are a few links that can guide employers and service providers in ensuring web content and communications are more accessible to someone who is blind or has low vision:
- WCAA guidelines for web accessibility https://www.wcaanet.org/access.shtml
- emails that facilitate effective access for those with a vision impairment https://mailchimp.com/help/accessibility-in-email-marketing/ and https://support.office.com/en-us/article/make-your-outlook-email-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities-71ce71f4-7b15-4b7a-a2e3-cf91721bbacb
Interviewing a disabled candidate
No one wants to make the recruitment process more difficult for an applicant. However sometimes our hesitance to ask questions, hinders our opportunity to maximise the individual’s chance of success.
You should feel comfortable to ask questions such as: What are you confident doing? What are your specific physical needs to enable you to perform this job? What are your concerns? What do we need to do here to make your role work? If we fail to ask those questions, the individual is prevented from sharing their experience around the steps needed to accommodate them and allow them flourish.
Finally, where an employer may be looking to improve diversity and inclusion, we recommend adding the following in all advertising “people with a disability are encouraged to apply”. As well as:
- Companies may wish to offer flexible start/finish times, as this may allow someone who is vision impaired to avoid the crowds at peak hour and have an easier / more comfortable path to work
- When arranging interviews give very specific directions to the location.
- Be aware of government funding or enquire or ask the candidate about NDIS funding that may be available to support transition to or continuing in meaningful work
With over 40 years’ experience gained in the Sydney market space resulting in an extensive network of contacts throughout Australia. I offer a consultative approach to recruitment when working with both clients and candidates to source the best candidates for permanent and contract roles within the ICT industry.
If you have questions for Marilyn – contact her here or on 02 9091 8211