By Peter Holliday, Managing Director, Sopra Steria Recruitment
Working with suppliers and partners isn’t always discussed as a factor in the way organisations approach disability – but it should be.
This is why it was very rewarding to join the wider discussion on working with suppliers and partners at Business Disability Forum’s annual conference – and even more interesting from our perspective as a recruitment supplier.
Employers in the UK spend £38 billion a year on contract and permanent recruitment suppliers alone – so it pays to ensure that this relationship between organisations and suppliers works well for everyone.
The recruitment profession is often considered to be operating at arms length from companies who need candidates. However, enlightened recruitment consultants working in true partnership with enlightened hirers can deliver great results together.
We do this because we believe that enlightened recruitment providers can really add value in this way, allowing for recruitment outsourcing to be seen as an opportunity for good practice to happen, rather than an obstacle to it.
It needs to be this way because, as a company procuring services, your equality agenda will only be as good as your suppliers. This is true of any service you outsource but is particularly true of recruitment, where inaccessible practice could block candidates or deny them an equal chance at success.
Recruitment service providers can now play a significant role in driving disability best practice to employers and candidates.
This is certainly what we’ve set out to do at Sopra Steria Recruitment, and I feel that our approach shows the relatively straightforward steps a supplier can take to ensure they are meeting best practice. It is a case of examining your processes for accessibility, as we did, and removing any potential barriers. For example, we developed how we advertised roles, using more inclusive job boards and making our own website more accessible.
Going further we trained our own recruiters through Business Disability Forum’s experts, enabling them to handle conversations on disability.
Taking these positive steps towards being a disability-smart supplier is more than just the right thing to do – it is also something that makes excellent business sense. Suppliers can gain an excellent business advantage from being disability-smart, not least when it comes to being awarded contracts during the tendering process. For example, on at least three occasions we were appointed by organisations that placed a 10% weighting in their tender criteria on having a policy around disability. More than that, we could demonstrate what we do on the ground, how we reach out to disabled workers, and how we make absolutely sure that they get equal opportunities. Showing this commitment to inclusivity will set disability-smart suppliers apart in terms of being partners in efforts on equality – and as providers that will bring added value to their services.
Key to this, ultimately, is making inclusivity the standard: making it business-as-usual. This was one of the many reasons we have chosen to sponsor and support Business Disability Forum’s Recruitment Service Provider Charter. It makes sense for employers and recruitment providers alike to follow the practical steps towards disability-smart recruitment the Recruitment Charter sets down. The results are employers that benefit from a wider pool of talent, and hiring processes that are open, accessible and fair for everyone.
The Recruitment Service Provider Charter provides employers and recruitment organisations with practical steps to becoming disability-smart and advice on how to promote barrier-free recruitment practices. To find out more about the Charter and download a copy, visit our website.