Guest contributor: Chris Dabbs, Chief Executive at Unlimited Potential (Written 05 April 2021)
As an employer, what would you think about having more staff with focus, different thinking and diligence? If you are interested, please read on …
Many employers yearn to find talented people who are productive, committed and loyal. Yet, there are parts of the population that remain little known or untapped by many organisations.
Nearly one in five people is disabled. This includes people with learning, physical or sensory impairments. There is a large disability employment gap, with just over half of disabled adults in employment compared with just over 80% for non-disabled people.
Unlimited Potential has repeatedly benefitted from employing disabled people over many years. We have a strengths-based approach and look primarily at what people offer, not their needs. What really matters is values and attitude!
We believe that while some people (and maybe all people?) have impairments, it is the world and its design that disables them. We can make adjustments and design differently to remove disabling factors and allow people’s talent to flourish.
As a consequence, we have had and still have staff who are creative, fully committed and can engage with the audiences that we need to reach as a business. Most have stayed with us for years, while we have supported others with an entrepreneurial streak to set up and develop their own businesses.
In all future industry scenarios, the key skills that employers are most likely to require are: interpersonal skills; critical and system thinking; and broad-based knowledge as well as specialised features needed for specific occupations. These are all qualities that will benefit our business in the future.
As an example, for employers, neurodiversity offers both a new pool of talent, and greater diversity of thought within a workforce and teams. Yet, autistic people have an exceptionally low employment rate, currently calculated to be around 21.7%.
While each autistic person, like everyone else, is an individual with their own personality and qualities, many have particular strengths in: intense focus; attention to detail; thinking differently with different insights; reliability; commitment; and diligence.
Progressive employers in Greater Manchester who recognise and are already benefitting from this include: ABL Health; Auto Trader; BBC; Cisco; GCHQ; Northern Care Alliance NHS Group; TalkTalk; and XPO Logistics.
So, why are so many other employers missing out? Our research found that key challenges include: recruitment and selection processes; lack of employer confidence and knowledge; and lack of support and advice.
We have found that, with the right recruitment and induction processes, it becomes much easier to find a wider diversity of potential staff. With the right working environment – with more options made more visible by the COVID-19 situation – it becomes easier to retain people, leading to increased productivity.
What’s not to like?
Unlimited Potential is a social enterprise that specialises in social and economic innovation. With local communities, it creates new solutions to meet social or economic challenges, while leaving behind a stronger capacity for society to act.
First established in 2002, Unlimited Potential holds the Investors in People standard and the Fair Tax Mark. It is an accredited Living Wage Employer, holds Disability Confident Leader status, and is a Member of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter.