Getting Businesses to be Disability Confident

Disability Confident is the name of the government’s new initiative to encourage organisations both large and small to recruit more Disabled People launched at a conference on the 19th July. s300_disability-confident-960 If the conference is anything to go by, the government is keen to get their message across.

Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People was largely relegated to a compere’s role, as David Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith, and Vince Cable were rolled out one at time to deliver the big policy announcements and demonstrate the government were serious about this issue.

To help support employers overcome barriers and become Disability confident, the Government will:

  • roll out a new £500,000 2-year government campaign targeting employers’ and workforce attitudes to hiring Disabled People
  • support the roll out of business-led commitments to hire more Disabled People
  • support Disabled People and media organisations increase media representation and portrayal of Disabled People in mainstream programmes
  • provide opportunities, through changes announced this week to Access to Work, for employers to engage Disabled People on work experience, traineeship and supported internships
  • provide streamlined advice and support for employers on hiring and keeping Disabled People in work through our guidance on employing Disabled People and people with health conditions

The new service for employers will focus on supporting them to become more confident about hiring Disabled People.

These announcements were slightly blunted throughout the day as none of the speakers would address how the welfare reforms fitted into this bright new world of Disability Employment. Access to Work was quite rightly praised by virtually every speaker, although other programmes seemed less clear as to how they would deliver real outcomes.

The conference was very much targeted at businesses so most Disabled People had to just watch it on the live internet stream and the comments via Twitter were predictably scathing about this. Maybe the government has forgotten the ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ motto already.

To be fair, there were some very impressive Disabled Entrepreneurs and Business People who spoke very powerfully about their experiences and views. Unfortunately this always seemed to be followed by a non Disabled Speaker calling them ‘inspirational’ which became quite tiresome quite quickly. The key role that Disabled People’s User Led Organisations could play in supporting businesses and Disabled workers was also not covered.

These kind of conferences always feel a bit like they’re preaching to the converted but hopefully this 2 year campaign will assist in increasing the number of Disabled People in employment so that it will become less ‘inspiring’  and more just part of everyday life.

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