In the first of a series of guest blogs from serial entrepreneur Jane Hatton she looks at some of the issues surrounding disability and employment.
Jane set up and runs Evenbreak, a specialist job board run by disabled people for disabled people. She does this lying flat with a lap top suspended above her, due to a disability which leaves her unable to sit and barely able to walk or stand. Jane was a finalist in the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneurs Award 2008.
‘Contrary to popular belief (fuelled mainly by the tabloids) most disabled people who are able to work, want to work. We are not a group of benefit scroungers living the life of riley on the back of the tax payer! However, disabled people are still twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people in the UK.
There are a number of problems which compound this situation:
- Those employers who do diversity in the workforce tell us they find it difficult to attract disabled applicants through their usual recruitment channels;
- Disabled applicants tell us they are so weary of being rejected by potential employers the minute they declare their disability they are sometimes reluctant to apply;
- Most employers do not see the value of employing disabled people – they see us as a liability rather than an asset.
I formed a new specialist job board, set up as a social enterprise, to address some of these problems. As an employer I know firsthand the benefits that disabled employees bring to a business. And as a disabled person I know firsthand how important being in work is – not just for the income, but for the self-esteem, sense of purpose, and the ability to retain some dignity and independence.
Evenbreak (www.evenbreak.co.uk) is a job board to help inclusive employers access more disabled talent, and for disabled job seekers to find vacancies with employers who do understand the benefits of employing disabled people. This means that employers can be confident they will attract more disabled applicants, and disabled job seekers can be confident that employers who choose to advertise on such as site will be positive about them. This addresses the first two problems above. Any surplus income will be spent on positive PR around the benefits of employing disabled people, to try and counter some of the myths currently colouring people’s perceptions, which will hopefully begin to chip away at the third.
Evenbreak is the only not-for-profit specialist job board run by disabled people for disabled people in the UK, and we believe it is also the most accessible. Disabled job seekers can register on the site, upload their CV and search for jobs completely free of charge. Although you can search for jobs without registering, it is worth the few moments it takes to register, as some employers will search the database for the skills they require rather than advertising their jobs.
We are quite new, but have already attracted employers such as the BBC, Yorkshire Water, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Zurich Finance, and Smiths Medical among others, and have already helped disabled people find jobs, including some who thought they might never work again.
Have a look at the site and tell me what you think – I’m always open to feedback!’ Jane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming soon…… Jane shares tips and advice for both job seekers and employers based on her experience at Evenbreak.