How Dylan Alcott is helping make recruitment accessible for Aussies with disabilities

How Dylan Alcott is helping make recruitment accessible for Aussie with disabilities

Dylan Alcott is helping make recruitment accessible for Aussies with disabilities.

When Stephanie Agnew entered the workforce, she had been diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition she knew would eventually impact how she sought and did her work. 

“When I first started my employment career, I didn’t have a disability” she tells SmartCompany.

But over the next 10 years she lost her vision.

“It really changed the way that I applied for jobs, and also some of the working environments I was in.”

She worried about disclosure; how much she should or shouldn’t disclose to prospective employers, and how she would be treated in the workplace.

But despite the fact she would “never apply for a job I knew I couldn’t do”, the more she used assistive technologies like screen readers in her workplace, the more “toxic” the environment became, with senior managers failing to believe she could still do the job.

Looking back on the experience now, Agnew says it still makes her feel frustrated.

It was “really upsetting”, she says.

“If you keep getting these rejections and being treated not like everybody else, it really knocks your confidence and you get really fearful about trying to find other employment.”

It’s the reason she feels so passionately about a new partnership between global recruiter Randstad and disability advocacy enterprise Get Skilled Access (GSA) to create a recruitment program to bring disabled Australians into mainstream recruitment streams.

Stephanie Agnew Consultant Get Skilled Access, Rocky

Stephanie Agnew is a consultant at Get Skilled Access. Image: supplied.

Founded by wheelchair tennis champion, paralympian and 2022 Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, GSA launched Recruitable last week alongside Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston.

Agnew is a consultant at GSA and worked closely on how the program should be set up to ensure it led to successful outcomes for participants.

Increase the inclusion and accessibility of mainstream recruitment processes

Supported by funding from the Morrison government, the initial pilot program is designed to increase the accessibility of mainstream recruitment by making it easier for employers to hire candidates with a disability.

Major Australian organisations including Coles, Tennis Australia, Bendigo Bank, Hydro Tasmania, RACQ and Randstad are among the first employers to participate in the pilot, which is initially scheduled to run for two years.

The program will provide organisations with insights into the accessibility of their current recruitment process and identify the key areas for increasing disability hires.

Its recommendations will also guide organisations to better understand their current processes to create a more inclusive recruitment experience for candidates with disability, and provide recommendations and training to increase accessibility.

Businesses signing up to the program will commit to training their staff to ensure a supportive environment and meet an initial quota for hiring people with disability, with some businesses releasing new job opportunities to Recruitable ahead of going to their current preferred supplier panel.

Agnew says the program accounts for almost every barrier to bringing a person with a disability into the workforce, including breaking down misconceptions.

“There’s actually this misconception around the cost of employing people with disabilities,” Agnew says.

“I think the big thing is about asking, not assuming, and looking at the person’s skill and not their disability, but look at the skills and look at the person first before you look at their disability.”

Benefits of a mainstream jobs program

Founder of GSA Dylan Alcott said that a “new, better and more inclusive model of recruitment” was long overdue in a statement launching the program.

“Recruitable will offer all Australians an equal opportunity to go after the job of their choice, fulfill their potential and live the life they deserve,” Alcott said.

Agnew says when she was looking for work many of the mainstream recruitment processes weren’t accessible; ranging from online platforms not working with a screen reader, to recruiters’ unconscious bias.

But access to mainstream recruitment also leads to mainstream work. Working with Randstad — and the larger organisations involved — will give participants access to opportunities that they just wouldn’t see through government-run disability jobs programs.

“We’ve also got large organisations and small to medium organisations on board that are really wanting to employ people with disability,” Agnew says.

“They’re doing recruitment reviews, they’re doing all of this disability confidence training to make sure that the people with disability can be supported in the role in the organisation and have a really great inclusive culture so that we can thrive and grow in our role and sustainable employment.”

The whole point of Recruitable is making mainstream recruitment accessible for people whose disability, Agnew explains.

“We know that there’s currently Disability Employment Services, but that’s not what this is.

“It’s all about making that mainstream recruitment process accessible for people with disability so that we can access mainstream recruitment just like everybody else does.”

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