Speaker 1 00:00:05 Hello and welcome to today's episode of Accessibility and Me. I'm Anica Zeyen from Royal Holloway University of London, and I co-host this podcast with Oana Branzeifrom Ivey Business School in Canada, and Luke Coughlin, also from Royal Holloway.
Speaker 2 00:00:21 In this episode, we spoke to Jane Hatton, founder and c e o of even break a job board and recruitment service, which connects inclusive employers with talented disabled people.
Speaker 3 00:00:32 Jane, thanks very much for joining us today. What were your motivations for founding even break?
Speaker 4 00:00:36 Hi, Luke. Yeah, my pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me. It was one of those things that came out of spotting a need that wasn't being met, um, by a number of people. So we, um, were talking to employers about employing disabled people and they would either say, why would I want to employ a disabled person? Or more positively they'd say, actually, we really want to employ disabled people. We recognize it's a untapped pool of talent, but we dunno how to do that. And when we spoke to disabled people, they were saying, um, well, we dunno which is which because every employer says we are an equal opportunities employer, and yet we know that most aren't, you know, when it comes to disability. So there was clearly a problem there. And, um, and I became disabled at the age of 44, so one of the 83% of disabled people who become disabled as adults.
Speaker 4 00:01:26 And so it was a bit kind of up close and personal and thought I'd do something about it. So we came up with the idea of having a job board that was just for disabled candidates and just for those employers enlightened enough to see us as a valuable source of talent rather than as a source of problems. And so, yeah, it was kind of born then, that's going back 10 years ago, but we've added a number of services since, again, having spotted that there's a gap, um, in the market. So things like support for employers wanting to become more inclusive and accessible and um, and candidates not really having access to the kind of career support that was relevant for them. So, um, yeah, we've added a number of services over the years and we're all disabled to even break. So, um, we have lived experience of the barriers that our candidates face.
Speaker 3 00:02:15 So why are some businesses reluctant to adopt disability inclusive hiring policies?
Speaker 4 00:02:20 Um, I think there's still a lot of, um, myths around employing disabled people. I think, um, many employers will see disabled people as not as good, if you like, candidates as non-disabled people because they see the, the medical model, the deficit model, they'll kind of focus on, well, disabled people can't do this and can't do that, or they'll worry that we'll need really expensive adaptations, or they'll worry that we'll be off sick all the time. Um, and actually the reality is the opposite. You know, disabled people have significantly less time off sick on average than than non-disabled people. We're just as productive. We bring additional skills with us. So there are, um, you know, I think there's a, there's a big piece of work to be done on changing the narrative around employing disabled people that actually it's something that's beneficial for the business. Um, you know, it's not a pity or a charity hire, it's actually a good business decision.
Speaker 4 00:03:16 So there's some work to be done about that. But also I think the, um, hiring processes that we've used traditionally for, you know, decades, really, as long as we've had hiring processes tend not to be fit for purpose for disabled candidates, but also for any candidates. You know, we know that, for example, CVS aren't particularly good at, um, predicting future performance. They're really about past privilege rather than future potential. Um, and interviews aren't always the best way of getting the best out of candidates. You know, having a, a random set of five people set firing questions at you isn't necessarily the best way to assess somebody's talent. So I think it's kind of clinging onto the familiar and not really understanding the benefits of employing disabled people.
Speaker 3 00:04:03 What benefits do disabled employees bring to organizations?
Speaker 4 00:04:07 Yeah, I mean there are, there are many and, uh, you know, we are equally as productive as non-disabled people. We have exactly the same range of skills and qualities and qualifications and experiences. The rest of the population and around the fifth of us are disabled. So obviously by excluding disabled people, that's 20% of the talent that businesses might be excluding. But also because of the nature of the world we live in, disabled people tend to have to navigate around barriers that other people don't have to. So whether that's inaccessible transport or recruitment processes or buildings, um, or whatever it might be, we have to develop skills that are beneficial for that. So things like problem solving, creative thinking, determination, finding new ways of doing things, and actually that's what an employer needs to have in their organization. So we bring an awful lot with us on top of all of the things that non-disabled candidates bring.
Speaker 3 00:05:06 Do you think the pandemic has improved or hindered disabled people's job prospects?
Speaker 4 00:05:12 I think it's done both. We were, um, obviously disproportionately hit by the pandemic, both in medical terms, you know, 60% of the people who died from Covid were disabled people. Um, but, but um, also, you know, a lot of the jobs that traditionally disabled people might do disappeared during the pandemic and people were more likely to be furloughed, more likely to be made redundant. But I think there are some positives that have come out of the pandemic in that remote working and flexible working have become much more accepted as a common way of working. Now, you know, previously it was, um, seen as a reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee, but now lots of employees are saying, actually, I'm not sure I want the two hour commute every day. And so I think that employers are recognizing that there are different ways of doing things, that people don't have to work nine to five full-time Monday to Friday in an office, and that there are other ways of, of accessing talent. And also I think the, the pandemic highlighted the inequalities and also forced people into a situation they didn't want to be in and maybe had a flavor of, you know, this isn't great. So I think employers are becoming more, um, open to the fact of, you know, we can work in different ways just as effectively and that's beneficial to disabled people, but it's also beneficial to other people who don't necessarily want to work full-time in the office.
Speaker 3 00:06:40 So even break has been established for over 10 years now. Um, have businesses become more disability inclusive over that time and what still needs to be done?
Speaker 4 00:06:49 Yeah, I think things have changed and they are improving. Uh, 10 years ago it was a really hard slog to persuade employers that disabled people would be an asset to the organization. Um, and that flexible working would be beneficial to to all. And I think that, you know, 10 years ago, again, you know, if we talked about diversity to employers, they were beginning to recognize that maybe we should be doing more on gender. Maybe we should be doing more on race. Although they were doing very little on either of those, but I'm not sure that disability was even on the agenda, let alone low on it. And um, and I think throughout those 10 years there's been a, a growing acceptance that actually inclusion doesn't just mean race and gender, it means all sorts of other things as well. But I think I've noticed a real change since the pandemic that there is much more of a realization that there's a whole bank of talent out there that employers haven't been making use of. So I think, I think we're getting there, but there's still an awful lot more to be done.
Speaker 3 00:07:49 What resources are available for social entrepreneurs working in the area of disability?
Speaker 4 00:07:55 Yeah, I mean, there are places you can go to for support. So there are organizations like Unlimited or School for Social Entrepreneurs, um, that are great at helping social enterprises. Um, I think for me, a great thing is to collaborate. You know, we can help social enterprises attract disabled candidates if they're already working with disabled people. There are loads of resources on our career hive that they are very welcome to use. They can signpost people towards our career height as well. We can signpost people to them. So for me, I think it's very much about collaboration, finding out who's out there, talking to each other and seeing how we can support each other.
Speaker 1 00:08:36 Thank you very much for listening to today's episode of Accessibility in Me. We hope you enjoyed it and we'll tune in to our next episode. We would like to thank the British Academy for funding today's episode.