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The power of Reasonable Adjustments

I was reminded recently by a valued connection that the notion of Reasonable Adjustments in the recruitment process is still an unfamiliar concept to many if not the majority of people. Indeed, on reflection my experience supports this observation. Considering the powerful role that Reasonable Adjustments can play in opening a hiring process to a broader talent pool, and to promoting inclusion, it struck me how important it is to keep shining a light on this subject.

In conversations with employers and across my network over the past few years I’ve encountered a scale of familiarity with Reasonable Adjustment something like this…

Unfamiliar with reasonable adjustments. Most people fall into this category including the majority of recruiters, many business leaders and hiring managers.

Somewhat familiar. A smaller population of people including those with theoretical knowledge of disability inclusion (possibly some training or higher education in this area) but limited experience in disability-inclusive hiring.

Very familiar – A more limited population again, made up of people with regular exposure to disability-inclusive hiring practices and with a strong level of disability confidence… plus People with Disability!

These observations highlight what a huge opportunity there is to reinforce Reasonable Adjustments as a key element in the journey to full inclusion in the recruitment process. What I love about reasonable adjustments is that in actual fact the concept is one of the easiest practical changes to the recruitment process that anyone can make. That’s because most of the change towards incorporating Reasonable Adjustments is arguably in the mindset, or at least it starts there. This is in turn supported by communication (written / verbal depending on the process), and further by tools and resources which can start as fairly basic and develop over time.

So, without rewriting the definition of adjustments here (“JobAccess / Employer Resources” is a good place to visit for more info), I would like instead to pose a couple of questions which help frame a potential approach to them, particularly for anyone in either of the top two categories above:

Do my job ads welcome requests for reasonable adjustments to the application process?

  • An adjustment at this stage could be providing application documentation in an alternative format, or requesting an alternative screening method
  • Remember to add appropriate wording to job ads, including a process for requests. Create a new wording template if one exists.
  • Potential learning benefits: Hirers learn first-hand about Reasonable Adjustments. Barriers are removed in the application process.
  • Powerful ripple effect: Sends a public message of inclusion from your organisation to people with disability and beyond!

Where else in the process can I revisit Reasonable Adjustments?

Repeating the habit and process of raising Reasonable Adjustments throughout the hiring process to conclusion helps to establish an inclusive mindset, to further educate hirers and to identify and remove unintended barriers.

  • A reasonable adjustment at interview for example could be an alternative room or building location, instructions regarding effective interaction with the candidate, advance notice of interview questions, removal or adjustment of timed elements etc.
  • A reasonable adjustment once hired might be access to a quiet room during working hours, flexibility around working hours, or a physical adjustment to the work environment etc.
  • Candidates are your most valuable resource in relation to their own situation, but there are also excellent resources available online and through government agencies to inform you.
  • Overcome fear of failure: It is not necessary to be prepared for every possible adjustment contingency. It’s more important to be open-minded to flexibility and be prepared to explore options in response to a request. Remember you only need to provide REASONABLE adjustments.
  • Potential benefits: Interviews which enable candidates to present themselves without being impeded by barriers. Further inclusive learning opportunities for hirers. Ultimately: more diverse hires.
  • Powerful ripple effect: Creating behavioural-based organisational change.

In my experience of including these considerations on our website and inviting frequently as part of our registration process, most candidates require little or no adjustment. 100% of candidates however express appreciation for the question, and the establishment of a safe space to make the request.

The concept of inviting requests for reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process is of course just a part of the journey to full inclusion, but in many cases it’s a critical and actionable first step in the right direction that many employers can take.

I think there is a lot of Power in that first step. Deep breath. Go!

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