Entrepreneurs, recruitment and hiring

Entrepreneur Jessica May on the personal challenge that made her want to help employers hire more people with disabilities

Dominic Powell /

Australian entrepreneur Jessica May has opened up about the personal challenges that led her to found disability-focused labour hire startup Enabled Employment.

Discussing the topic with TV presenter Jules Sebastian on her YouTube series, Tea With Jules, May delved into many of the assumptions made about disabled workers. She highlighted that there are 4.2 million people with a disability in Australia, saying “it’s a minority group that we ostracise, but it’s one you could be part of tomorrow”.

May, who suffers from dissociative anxiety, discussed how she began her business after failing to receive the support she needed from her then employer, a topic she also discussed with SmartCompany in 2014.

Read more: Meet the Canberra business crowned startup of the year at the Telstra Business Women’s Awards

“I was doing really well in my career because I had a disability. My anxiety made me a workaholic, and I was quite high up in government. But after I had my daughter in 2011, I was diagnosed with postpartum thyroiditis which is a condition that attacks your thyroid, and my anxiety was out of control,” May told Sebastian.

This prompted May to found Enabled Employment, and since the business has gone from strength to strength, winning startup of the year at the 2015 Telstra Women’s Business Awards.

Enabled Employment works through a model where businesses pay the platform to provide them with an employee, which May believes to be a better approach than that of the government, which pays businesses to take on disabled employees.

“We try to turn it on its head. We don’t rely on any government funding or charity money, we charge the business for our service. You should be paying for a quality candidate,” May says.

“In any other marketplace for jobs, it’s easy to get the jobs, but it’s not easy to get the right people, and this is a whole talent pool we just ignore.”

“They’re skilled, they’re qualified, they’ll be with you for longer. You should be paying us for these people, they’re brilliant.”

Watch the full interview with Jules Sebastian below.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is a journalist at SmartCompany and a tech and music geek. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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