Celebrating Disability Pride Month: Creating Job Placements with Mencap

Written by Jason Talbot

July is Disability Pride Month, a celebration that shines a spotlight on anoften-overlooked sector of our society.

This annual occasion is not just about acknowledging and celebrating individuals with disabilities. It’s also about asking ourselves – as employers – what have we done lately to improve accessibility, opportunity and inclusion for people with disabilities?

Personally – as both an employer and the parent of a child with a disability – I found it a terrifying question because the truth is: most of us do nowhere near enough. Sure, a webinar here and there, and perhaps a workshop to raise awareness. But what positive, tangible impact has any of that had on any individual with a disability? Almost certainly none.

Shocking stat: only around 6% of adults with learning disabilities known to social services are currently employed.

Over the last three years our company has been on a steep D&I learning curve, and god knows, we still have a long way to go across all aspects of inclusion. The wider D&I conversation is alive and healthy within the agency fuelled by an excellent internal steering team, and we have had a great number of great sessions, discussions and workshops on the specific topic of disability.

However, at the end of the day the feel-good factor and some nice PPTs amount to no material impact – not good enough.

Working with Mencap

However, those three years of conversation and training were not entirely in vain because when the subject of creating work placements with Mencap was raised, it seemed like an obvious and intuitive next step for our culture, an opportunity to move decisively beyond tokenism.

Mencap are leading the way in creating job placements for people with learning disabilities. I highly recommend them and if you read no further please do consider them in your future recruitment or work placement plans: https://www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/education-skills-and-work/employing-people-learning-disability

In 2023 our first placement was Leo, a great character who also works at the London Transport Museum and has incredibly strong computer skills. With Leo leading the way it didn’t take us long to see his capabilities leaned towards graphic design and now nearly two months later Leo has passed a design certification program we designed – go Leo!

The goal must be to create FTE roles, but as a starting point this represents an inclusive framework we can start to sustain and scale – a good foundation step that has impact.

Starting to stretch our legs

Alongside the Mencap work placement program we recently launched B2B marketing’s first Creator Economy proposition with the inclusion of the brilliant team and talent at Zebedee inclusive talent agency www.zebedeetalent.com – a way for the industry to get more disability representation in creative execution.

We have also adopted a fantastic web accessibility solution called AccessiBe within www.thecroc.com. It’s an inclusivity engine for web experiences that complies with ADA and WCAG. Really easy to implement and intuitive to use, please look them up.

Disability Confident is a government initiative we signed up to designed to create a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how we recruit, retain and develop people with disabilities. If you’re interested please follow the link. Again, easy to get involved and gain access to useful literature: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/disability-confident-campaign.

Actions speak louder than PPTs

As we celebrate Disability Pride in July (and every other month), it’s important to get beyond mere tokenism by finding ways to support, nurture and build-up actual individuals. We are better at demonstrating solidarity with the category of disability than we are at providing real jobs and real opportunities.

Shocking fact: there are more fashion lines for dogs than for people with disabilities.

Disabled people are people, some blessed with true talent in the skills we can all use in our businesses, but the truth is there is widespread bias and it’s a huge barrier. Individually – as employers and as citizens – we need to take responsibility to have any chance collectively of making a difference, and ultimately, actions speak louder than PPTs!



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