By Tuesday Mennie, marketing assistant at Glencraft
When applying for jobs in the past, I often worried that an employer might not take me seriously if they were aware of my disability.
Fears of rejection often consumed my thoughts and I once believed that by not mentioning my disability, I would be giving myself a better chance of reaching the interview stage.
Those with disabilities often want to be as independent as possible, however, it can sometimes be to our own detriment. This is why it’s reassuring to see organisations display their Disability Confident Employer badge.
The Disability Confident Scheme is a UK Government supported scheme aimed at encouraging employers to recognise the talents that a disabled person could bring to their team and look to hire more people with various disabilities.
Social enterprise Glencraft has committed to its ethos of providing employment opportunities to those in Aberdeen with visual impairment and other barriers to work, ever since it was established in 1843. Having an official Disability Confident Employer accreditation further solidifies its mission to provide ‘Dignity Through Work’.
As a Disability Confident Scheme employer, organisations agree to ensuring their recruitment process is inclusive and accessible and to communicate and promote vacancies to disabled people.
It’s important to understand that employing someone with a disability shouldn’t be seen as an act of charity; it’s the act of a business that wants to be inclusive by finding the skills and experience within everyone and supporting everyone to reach their full potential.
Those living with a disability can bring a unique outlook, an array of skills and varied experience which could benefit any organisation. By tapping into the largest possible group of applicants, the business will also benefit and have a greater chance of finding the right candidate for the role.
A Disability Confident organisation must also commit to offering an interview to any person with a disability who meets all the basic requirements for the job as defined by the employer in the job advert or recruitment material.
Many people in the disabled community, including myself, don’t want to be treated any differently, so initially I had reservations about this element of the scheme. I had never mentioned my disability before on applications, however on reconsideration, I started to realise that it was perhaps my pride stopping me from utilising the guaranteed interview.
Although the guaranteed interview may seem like a small enhancement, this gesture can make a world of difference to allow people with disabilities to feel more confident about applying and can also provide the person with real interview experience, regardless of the outcome.
Of course, a person with a disability will not be guaranteed the job role, but by having this scheme in place, the disabled community will know that this employer is offering a bit of extra support to someone who may otherwise not apply due to fear of rejection or feeling discriminated against.
If hired by a Disability Confident Scheme employer, a person with a disability will receive support and adaptations if needed. Whether that be emotional support in helping to boost their confidence within the role, or physical adjustments they might need to make it easier for them to be able to carry out their day-to-day tasks.
The Disability Confident Scheme reassures individuals that not only is their disability not an issue, but also shows that the workplace is inclusive. All applicants will rest assured that they are being treated fairly and considered equally alongside other applications.
I am proud to work for a Disability Confident Scheme employer. Glencraft has been nothing but supportive of my disability – whether that has been encouraging feedback about my work or sourcing equipment to help me physically in my role as marketing assistant.
It is important for all organisations, who aren’t already registered, to become a registered Disability Confident Scheme employer.
Additionally, I would also encourage anyone with a disability to look for the Disability Confident badge when applying for a job vacancy. You can rest assured that by applying for a job with a Disability Confident Employer, you don’t have to worry about being judged or being discriminated against.
Glencraft manufactures luxury mattresses and other soft furnishing products from its facility and showroom on Whitemyres Avenue in Aberdeen. The charity supports 26 jobs and more than 80% of its staff are visually impaired or have some other form of disadvantage in relation to health or socio-economic challenges.