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Disability Barriers to Finding Work

24 July 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

Up to 85% of disabled people find that their condition has an impact when job-hunting, according to new research.

The findings come from the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) which also discovered that 56% of respondents said that they first faced barriers as early as the application stage of the recruitment process- and only 3% of those surveyed, stated that their disability did not have an impact their job hunt at all.

RIDI, in conjunction with and Evenbreak, surveyed over 300 disabled jobseekers with a variety of physical and non-visible disabilities and long-term conditions.

Almost 47% of respondents considered themselves to have a mobility impairment, 10% had a visual impairment, 13% identified as having a learning disability and 23% said they had a mental health condition.


Barrier to talent

Irrespective of disability, over half of respondents (56%) found the first hurdle – the application stage - challenging.

One commented: “When an agency contacts me asking for my phone number after reading my CV, I explain to them that I cannot use the telephone and suggest corresponding via emails. Silence. No more response.”



The face-to-face interview stage is also deemed to be a challenging time with 57% of respondents saying that meeting a potential employer in person has had an impact on their chances of finding a job.

A respondent stated: “I have a hearing dog. When they [interviewers] see her, they don’t want to know.”

In addition to these key hurdles, the survey found that challenges are scattered throughout the recruitment process with a proportion of respondents citing telephone interviews (23%), online assessments (32%), travel to an interview (29%), presentations (15%), psychometric testing (11%), role-play (15%), and group exercises (18%) as having adverse affects for their job hunt.

RIDI promotes the idea that small changes in recruitment processes can have a huge impact on inclusion and advises companies in ways in which they can drive change.

“Sadly, it’s unsurprising that many disabled candidates find the recruitment processes challenging,” said Commenting on the survey results, Kate Headley, Director of Consulting at diversity consultancy The Clear Company and spokesperson for RIDI. “Many recruiters and employers – most often unintentionally – are still using outdated processes which are a disadvantage to those with both physical and non-visible impairments.”

Ms Headley advised that companies and organisations needed to review each stage of the recruitment process to ensure that they were accessible and equitable for all.

If they fail to do so, the best person for the job may never even apply for the role – let alone make it to interview.

“The findings of this survey are reflective of what our candidates have long been telling us, that there is a myriad of obstacles throughout the recruitment process that they must navigate in order to secure a role,” explained Morgan Lobb, CEO and Founder at which distributed the survey on behalf of RIDI. “The application stage in particular can be a barrier for jobseekers who do not fit all the criteria deemed ‘essential’, e.g. holding a full UK driving licence. The employers that we work with understand that small changes in the way they communicate with disabled candidates can make a big difference to accessibility.”

Picture: The majority of disabled job seekers believe their conditions have an adverse affect on their chances of employment

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 24 July 2015


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