To learn more about best practices and standards with the Our Manchester Equality and Inclusion Plan, we spoke with David Gray, Employment Service Manager with Breakthrough UK.

 

Can you explain the OMEIP's aims to us?

"The OMEIP aims to reduce and remove barriers affecting disabled people's ability to enter and sustain meaningful employment. This will be achieved by working with employers and employees, disabled people and non-disabled people.

We aim to broker relationships with further employers to support them in improving their recruitment and inclusivity policies and procedures with the intent that this will help to alleviate the over-representation of disabled people in those out of employment."

 

What one thing, right now, can employers do to make their workplaces more inclusive?

"They can proactively hire disabled people into current positions, and/or find a space to carve a role for a disabled person (<16-hour contract, flexible hours, aware of reasonable adjustments). The only way to be more inclusive is to just go and do it. Hiring disabled people will mean managers get experience of managing disabled people, and colleagues get a better understanding that disabled people can work effectively.

While the latter sounds harsh, there is an ongoing, deep-rooted perception that disabled people cannot work as effectively as non-disabled people, with Scope finding that a third of people believe this to be true. That percentage has stayed at over 30% for at least the past 20 years. Employers create a culture of inclusivity and directly include disabled people by simply hiring them - and we'd be here to support them to do so around any concerns about doing it in the right way."

 

What are the main benefits to an inclusive and diverse workforce?

"An inclusive and diverse workforce is one that isn't discriminatory, and this should be the standard. What we're aiming to do is make the employment market representative of the people that are in it. At the minute, that's not the case, which is entirely wrong. Therefore, the benefits are that it would be representative and fair.

From an employer's perspective, you would open up your recruitment pool significantly, too.

You could learn more about reasonable adjustments that may inform best business practices for all staff, for example, working from home and having flexible hours. Before the pandemic, these options were often stated as not good for business, and now it's the new norm. These two are the most requested reasonable adjustments by far for disabled people."

 

What does the future of employment look like to you?

"To me, the future of employment looks significantly more human. COVID has been a large adjustment for people who were not used to the idea of balancing work and life at the same time. Everyone has been forced to manage their work time and personal time in a more conscious way. For disabled people, this isn't new. It's now common place to see parents be allowed time out of the workday to support their children (picking them up from school, for example). That flexibility is beneficial for both the employer and employee in clear ways but was not something most employers would even give a second thought to until recently. These minor changes are what is being asked for to support disabled people in finding work. I think that idea is becoming more understandable to a lot of employers at the minute, and I look forward to seeing what happens next."

If you’re an employer or a hiring manager, and you’d like more advice and guidance about what the best practices are regarding the hiring of disabled people, you can join David on the friendly online forum here.