Realising their full potential
24 January 2018
By Christos Tsaprounis
The employment rate in the UK is at a near historic high of 75%. But only around half of disabled people are in work.
The government is launching a ten-year programme to tackle disability employment inequality and hopefully create the conditions for further success. Employers have a key role to play here and can make a difference by working together with local organisations and charities.
At Auto Trader we have been making conscious efforts to contribute to bringing about positive change.
We introduced our ‘One Auto Trader: Creating a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion’ one-day workshops across our entire workforce to lay the foundations for change.
Colleagues from across the business get together and learn from each other and in-house specialists about nurturing diversity and working towards respecting each other’s differences and finding common ground.
Another great initiative is our partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability and their Change100 summer placement programme for disabled students. Our hiring managers get to attend assessments centres and experience first-hand the candidate’s dedication, ideas and passion for their future careers.
Our first Change100 placement was a great success. The person had great skills, attitude and took personal responsibility for his work. Based on this success, we expanded our participation in the programme with two placements in the second year.
Each person has unique needs
We have learnt that making reasonable adjustments doesn’t require you to be a disability expert. With support from specialist charities and from Access to Work, we have been able to make reasonable adjustments and ensure disabled people get what they need to do their job well.
At Auto Trader we believe that employers should concentrate on supporting disabled people realise their full potential in their roles. The most important factor in my view is the attitude of team leaders and colleagues, who provide encouragement, respect and practical support people need every day.
We introduced 12 mental health first aiders across our offices who are available to provide support and help colleagues get access to specialists. Our resourcing team are leading on our business becoming Disability Confident, a scheme offering practical solutions. We are also working on creating products and services for colleagues and customers that are more accessible.
Our new careers website gives candidates an improved and inclusive experience when applying for jobs. In the last year at Auto Trader we have doubled the percentage of disabled people in our workforce, although we know it remains low and not representative of the communities we operate in.
We are always learning and being inspired from other businesses and organisations that have made greater progress.
I strongly believe that one of the most effective ways to change attitudes, challenge biases and overcome any barriers towards working with disabled people is the actual experience of working with disabled people.
Only then can you develop an understanding and respect for the challenges disabled people face but then understand that they bring huge value to your business in their untapped talent.
Christos Tsaprounis is the Head of People and Culture at Auto Trader