By Jeff A. King, Assistant Vice President, European IT, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
We’ve teamed up with the Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce for a unique event. It’s a Film Festival that provides a look at the world through the eyes of young disabled students preparing to go for their first jobs.
It goes without saying that workplaces need to understand each new generation of graduates. After all they are the people who will ultimately shape the organisation and ensure it meets the future with fresh ideas and remains relevant. More immediately, this is about getting the best out of every employee in the organisation and utilising the most diverse possible pool of talent.
Therefore it is a given that workplaces need to understand disabled employees and candidates, for the same reason. It’s the right thing to do and means your business is fair and open, but, more importantly, it also means that every employee has the chance to succeed and achieve their full potential in an environment where they are valued and respected.
Judging films for this year’s Film Festival has been particularly interesting because this new generation of disabled talent has grown up or come of age with hard-fought legislation such as the DDA and Equality Act already in place.
This means they will bring a formidable range of new ideas and approaches to the workplace, but also that they will expect and want new things from their employer. This shouldn’t be a source of concern for recruiters – it should be treated as a real opportunity to develop the way we work and problem-solve.
So it’s just down to us as organisations to rise to the challenge.
Some of the most inspiring aspects of the Film Festival entries were the ways they showed how understanding and adjustments, whether this was by entire organisations or just by individuals working together, can break down any barrier.
We specifically wanted to see the entrants weave in the theme of technology and another great thing to see was how technology has enabled not only disabled people, but entire workforces to operate in a more accessible way.
Seeing the work of these talented young filmmakers, I am reminded of how successful this approach was in one of our interns, who shared her story on our website.
Mollie recently started with us as a Management Trainee Intern at our Midlands group and her experience shows how simple adjustments to the work environment can enable a talented candidate to shine. She immediately felt able to share the fact that she had dyslexia when she came to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and was also secure in the knowledge that she would receive any necessary adjustments in a timely manner.
This meant that a talented new trainee was able to take on every aspect of her new job to the best of her ability, and that there were no barriers when it came to hiring new talent.
Successes like this are among the many reasons why I would like to encourage as many businesses as possible to see these films. Hearing what can help break down barriers for disabled people – be that technology, collaboration or adjustments – in their own words, is something all businesses should do.
We’ll be screening our own film at the Film Festival, ‘Blind Hike’, which I feel sums up what we are hoping to achieve in terms of breaking down barriers: it’s about no experience or achievement being off limits and realising the potential that everyone has.