Susan Scott-Parker talks accessible recruitment at 2015 Global Recruiter Summit

By Emily Jackson


On 11 February, delegates from across the business world descended on central London for the annual Global Recruiter UK Summit. Taking place at the brilliant 30 Euston Square venue, the conference featured guest speakers from across the recruitment industry, including representative bodies, members of government and recruitment specialists themselves.

Susan Scott-Parker talks accessible recruitment at Global Recruiter two thousand and fifteen

Chaired by Chairman of APSCo and Recruitment Sector Investor, Miles Hunt, this year’s conference focussed on the topic of evolutionary recruitment and the adaptations recruitment companies must make to access the widest possible talent pool and ultimately stay ahead of the curve.

Joining a wide range of experts and industry leaders speaking at this event, Business Disability Forum (BDF) Founder and CEO, Susan Scott-Parker gave an engaging and eye-opening presentation to delegates entitled ‘Revolutionary Recruitment’. Speaking directly to the wide range of recruitment industry representatives present, Susan’s presentation established the ways in which recruitment companies will best meet their client’s ultimate goal of accessing and attracting the widest talent pool by changing how they operate.

By becoming increasingly disability confident and incorporating accessibility into each and every stage of the recruitment process, organisations will place themselves in the best possible position to attract, recruit and retain employees from the broadest possible talent pool. This process begins at the very beginning, from making online applications accessible to disabled people, to the ways in which potential candidates are contacted, all the way through to the interview process, offering the position and finally, taking on new employees.

Speaking in her engaging signature style, Susan began the presentation by asking to stand, those in the audience who could. Once standing, Susan began to read aloud a list of disabilities and asking audience members to sit down if they themselves or someone they knew had any of the disabilities noted. Before reaching the halfway point of the list, all audience members had already returned to their seats. This simple task immediately illustrated the fact that disability is not a peripheral or minor issue, but something that affects the large majority of us in a variety of different ways.

The presentation focussed on the central leitmotif which states:

“If recruiters and recruitment companies make it easier for their employers to ensure that their procedures are accessible to people with disabilities, then everybody wins a balloon”.

In keeping with BDF’s aim of working towards the mutual benefit of disabled people and business, Susan outlined a number of ways in which recruitment companies can begin to build and implement accessibility into their organisation

Firstly, ensuring candidates with a visual impairment can easily read the company’s online database and publications. This is particularly important when making adjustments for an aging workforce such as that in Britain. Furthermore, ensuring that your company website is fully accessible to the 10% of the workforce who have dyslexia so that they can use your company’s online application service successfully as opposed to taking their business elsewhere. In terms of communication, ensuring that applicants are provided with a number of different ways in which to contact the employer so that candidates with a hearing impairment for example can easily apply for the role. And finally, ensuring that your premises and your client’s premises is physically accessible to people with a disability. This could be as simple as installing a ramp where there are stairs or installing automatic doors to aid wheelchair users.

Having presented and illustrated a number of ways in which recruitment companies can incorporate accessibility into their business models, Susan went on to describe how BDF works and what it can do for its members and partners. Susan described the essence of BDF as a company which:

“…enables all human beings – in all our complexity, in all our oddness, in all our non-standardness to contribute to business success.”

To close, Susan ended with a discussion on the importance of changing attitudes. Whilst making your business accessible to people with a disability is vital if you are to succeed in reaching the widest possible skilled workforce, you should not need a business case to treat people properly and fairly.

International Summit on Accessibility announces Susan Scott-Parker Scholarship for disabled undergraduate women in Canada

By George Selvanera

SSP and Carleton Uni

Business Disability Forum (BDF) is delighted to advise that at the International Summit on Accessibility in Ottawa last month, a new Susan Scott-Parker Scholarship was announced for a disabled undergraduate student attending Carleton University.

The scholarship is named in recognition of Susan Scott-Parker, the Canadian founder and Chief Executive Officer of Business Disability Forum and a tireless campaigner for the rights of disabled people in the UK and internationally.

The new Susan Scott-Parker Scholarship will be awarded annually to a disabled undergraduate student at Carleton who has demonstrated financial need and academic achievement, with preference given to female students. This award was initiated by Fran Harding and funded through generous donations from her and other Ottawa club members of the Canadian Foundation of University Women (CFUW).

“Through the generosity of the women of Ottawa, we’re really proud that there will be a woman at Carleton who will get some help studying for a number of years and that person will have a disability,” said Harding. “We don’t care what kind of disability it is. If it gets in the way of you learning, than let’s help you get over that a little bit…It’s really nice to know that there’s a possibility that really good things can come from being thoughtful and hard-working and working together for a good cause.”

Susan Scott-Parker adds it would be brilliant to see British universities and businesses coming together to improve the opportunities for disabled women undergraduates to also achieve. “It’s wonderful that the CFUW are making possible the opportunity for a young disabled woman to move forward with her career and aspirations- to be the best she can be. I very much look forward to seeing similar great collaborations for the benefit of young disabled women here in the UK too’.

The Summit explored how the strategic use of information technologies when combined with global collaboration can improve knowledge-sharing and transfer to improve health and empowerment of those with disabilities.

“Disability Confidence”

By Susan Scott-Parker

Susan Scott-Parker

We were of course more than delighted when Ian Duncan Smith decided in 2013 – inspired by his joining our annual Business Disability Forum (BDF) President’s Group dinner for ‘captains of industry’ and disabled opinion leaders – to help us to promote wider recognition of the term ‘disability confidence’- which we created back in 2005 in an effort to make it easier to engage and equip business leaders to improve their corporate disability performance.

I can still remember walking round the office chanting: “Disability Confidence”; “Disability Competence” over and over – trying to persuade myself that the phrase was both say-able and usable and that we could define it in such a way as to make it useful… – before we launched our guide to the business case for becoming ‘Disability Confident’ in 2005 .

It was vital that the term be more than a slogan, catchphrase, empty rhetoric – so we launched not just the phrase but our formal definition. We said that a disability confident company would:

  • Understand that disability impacts all parts of the business.
  • Identify, and remove barriers, for groups of people.
  • Be willing and able to make adjustments for individuals.
  • Not make assumptions based on someone’s disability.

In other words – we sought to equip the business community with a visualisation of what they would be doing differently when they started to deliver disability best practice.

It is a source of much delight that Government recognised we were making it easier to open a new conversation with employers – moving from blaming them for their failure to ‘get it’ – to encouraging business in very practical ways to build its capacity to employ and do business with disability people.

Indeed Maria Eagle, then Minister for Disabled People, not only joined us in Madrid at the garden of the UK Ambassador, as Barclays Spain promoted the concept of business disability confidence to the Spanish business community– she joined us at the hotel for the ‘thank heavens that went to plan’ glass (or two) of wine afterwards.

DWP officials presumably saw the impact the concept was having on business in Hong Kong (Community Business launched their guide for employers in Hong Kong and Singapore: “Towards Disability Confidence” in 2011) and in Australia where it has long been integral to the work of the Australian Employers Network on Disability and Workfocus.

We were more than delighted when Ian Duncan Smith announced that he would help us to reach the SME community and in the process enable those funded to help disabled people into work to understand that it is absolutely their job to help employers understand how disability affects them directly, learn how to remove obstacles for groups, make adjustments for individuals and to stop making assumptions about what people can do on the basis of labels. This is more important than ever given the Government’s priority of moving more disabled people off benefits and into employment.

The phrase ‘disability confidence’ must be understood as much more than a campaign slogan– we created it because we needed to open a new conversation with business (and indeed the public sector as service provider and employer) given that all too often the ONLY conversation any employer had on this subject started with the rather scary sentence: “Why don’t you hire more disabled people…?” followed by rather futile efforts to generalise about millions and millions of human beings.

Disability confidence on the other hand (or as we say, the corporate best practice we brand ‘disability confidence’) enables us to demonstrate the business and ethical rationale for learning how to recruit on the basis of merit; for learning how to adapt so that human beings in all their diversity can contribute to business success; and learning how to deliver excellence at every step of every customers’ experience.

Disability confidence is about leaders and managers across the private and public sectors feeling more confident at a personal level as they interact with ever more disabled applicants, disabled colleagues and disabled customers.

I look forward to closer working with the DWP to explore how, in collaboration, we maximise the impact of the Government’s Disability Confident campaign by communicating what this corporate best practice looks like – and encouraging as many organisations as possible to measure and improve their performance by using our Disability Standard – recognising that securing and sustaining best practice in disability performance requires changes across the whole organisation.