Guest blog by Cherrelle Williams who works for Shell‘s European Recruitment Team. Her role involves working with applicants with disabilities and long-term health conditions and providing adjustment support to them:
Accessible employers and you – honesty, trust and support
An accessible employer enables everyone to be their best, and provides opportunities for all to gain employment and develop their skills and talents. An accessible employer will recognise and embrace the diversity on offer throughout the workforce, providing a platform for all employees, and ultimately the organisation, to reach their full potential.
For students and employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions, an accessible employer will assist the individual to reach their full potential by providing support during, and adjustments to, its recruitment process, its workplace and its policies.
To maximise the support an employer can provide to you, a relationship of trust needs to be developed between you and the employer. This relationship can only be developed through two-way communication about the effect your disability and/or long-term health condition will or may have on your ability to apply for and, later, to perform in your role.
Below you’ll find a one-stop-shop about the why, when, how and what of sharing relevant information about your disability and/or long-term health condition:
Simply, it is about supporting and empowering applicants and employees. With the information you provide, employers can work with you to help you understand the recruitment process and discuss the adjustments you will need. In the workplace, adjustments mean you are able to fully perform the duties associated with your role.
However, for employers to support you, they need you to be open and honest about what’s needed. You are the expert; but if you are unsure and have questions, ask, and work with the employer to build the best support possible.
Employers recognise that when to share details of your disability or long-term health condition is an individual choice. However, most recommend sharing information at the start of an assessment process so that you can be supported fully.
In the workplace, you can speak with your Line Manager, HR and/or Occupational Health at any time. This could be at the start of a job for the purposes of awareness and/or known challenges, or when challenges occur later on.
All employers will work differently, but accessible employers will provide opportunities for you to confirm what support you will require during the recruitment process, usually at the outset of that process.
For example at Shell, our job applications allow applicants to confirm whether they require any adjustments to be made to the facilities and recruitment process. Candidates can also email us with this information. Understanding what assistance is needed at the outset of the recruitment process allows recruitment staff to proactively discuss with the applicant their specific needs and how we can help them to perform to their best ability at all stages of the recruitment process.
Disabilities and long-term health conditions
Whilst not exhaustive, examples of disabilities and long-term health conditions which could be supported by accessible employers include:
- specific learning difficulties
- autism spectrum disorders
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- cystic fibrosis
- mental health conditions
- arthritis (and other conditions affecting mobility)
- visual impairments
- hearing impairments
Suitable adjustments will vary between individuals and employers depending on the nature and effect of the applicant/employee’s condition, the specific requirements of the assessment or role, and what the employer can reasonably accommodate in the circumstances; there is no ‘one size fits all’. Below are some examples of adjustments that could be implemented in a recruitment process and/or the workplace:
- extra time
- modifications to assessment documentation, for example, application forms in large print or braille
- use of assistive technologies, for example, JAWS
- allowing for breaks within assessments or within your role
- mobility, accessibility and safety support, for example, evacuation plans and ergonomic assessments
- occupational health and/or stakeholder support
Remember: accessible employers have the best of intentions to support their applicants and employees, and sometimes they may need your help to do that. Providing you with adjustments is not about making things ‘easier’; it’s about ensuring you can perform to your highest potential and be who you are!