Disabilities in recruitment and the workplace: dissolving barriers, asking for adjustments, and the value of diversity
4 min read
By Hannah Vernon
Media & Communications at Gradcracker

In the Equality Act 2010, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. This includes physical disabilities, developmental disorders, learning disabilities, and mental illness, among others. 

Those with a disability must often overcome challenges which others do not, and this can put them at a disadvantage in many situations – including in recruitment and the workplace. It is therefore essential that recruitment processes and workplaces are continuously striving to be accessible to, and inclusive of, disabled applicants and employees. This ensures that every person can exercise their right to work; utilise their skills and strengths, pursue their career goals and reach their full potential in the workplace.

Dissolving barriers

Employers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to remove or reduce any disadvantage a person may face because of a disability. Many of the employers on Gradcracker regularly make such adjustments and are continuously striving to best meet the individual needs of applicants and employees. 

A disability can affect different people in different ways and may not be visible or immediately obvious. Disclosing your disability to an employer is a personal choice, but doing so can ensure that you are able to perform to the best of your ability in an environment you are most comfortable in.

Asking for adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes that a business can make to ensure the applicant or employee can do their job effectively, without causing damage or interruption to the business. There are many adjustments that can be made to the recruitment process and in the workplace, so it is definitely worth discussing your individual requirements with your recruiter/employer. 

Employers can adjust assessment procedures by, for example, giving extra time or providing assistive technology or equipment. Alterations can also be made to the premises, such as providing ramps, quiet spaces, dimmed lighting, or alternative forms of signage or directions. Employers can also provide mentoring and one-to-one support, and accommodate for flexible working or adjusted hours. 

These are just some examples of the many adjustments that can be made, and it is worth noting that adjustments are based entirely on the individual, rather than on their disability or condition. Discussing your personal circumstances with the employer will help them to best understand your requirements and make the adjustments that are most appropriate for you. 

Employers may encourage those who require adjustments to get in contact either prior to applying or before starting a new role. That said, it is never too late to raise the subject with your recruiter or employer, so do get in touch as soon as you decide you’d like to discuss your requirements. 

The value of diversity in the workplace

Diversity is key to any successful team or business and employers on Gradcracker are both keen and committed to recruiting a diverse workforce. 

Working in an environment in which you can utilise your strengths, and develop your skillset, is essential to personal development and career progression – which, in turn, contributes to business success. It is in the interest of your employer to make any adjustments that will enable you to succeed as an individual and as part of the team.

I think it’s also important to highlight the value of neurodiversity, and diversity of experience. Someone with a disability might see things from a different angle, or approach tasks in a unique way. This kind of diversity is particularly valuable within a workplace environment when solving problems and coming up with new innovations and ideas. Moreover, someone with a disability is likely to have greater awareness and understanding of the challenges that others with the disability face. Therefore, their experiences and insight can be instrumental in creating an inclusive workplace and work culture.
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To conclude, no person should be at a disadvantage because of a disability, and it’s important that everyone finds an environment in which they can succeed and grow. So, if you require or would benefit from specific adjustments to the recruitment process or your workplace, don’t hesitate to contact your recruiter or employer to discuss your requirements. 

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