'Meaningful opportunities' needed for disabled graduates

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HR professionals are in a constant battle to attract new talent but, according to one HR expert, employers are underutilising one key demographic – disabled graduates.

"It is not good enough to talk about the policies you may have for disabled employees," said SABMiller’s head of HR Ollie Roberts. “What really makes a difference is creating meaningful opportunities for disabled graduates.”
For Roberts, this means participating in a specific recruitment scheme with UK-based disabled charity Leonard Cheshire.

The charity strives to connect up-and-coming disabled workers with established businesses such as SAABMiller, who can easily accommodate their needs.

"The interns go through the same selection process as any other able-bodied employee, are hired on merit and above all have the same ambitions as their able-bodied colleagues,” said Roberts. “They just happen to live with a disability – and that shouldn’t be a reason for them not to succeed."
While Roberts is outspoken about his beliefs that companies should actively support the careers of young disabled workers, he acknowledged the worries that some companies have when recruiting a disabled person.

“It can be quite daunting for organisations to think about employing people with disabilities," he said.

"There is a nervousness around needing to create a safe environment and managing them in a way that is respectful and equal yet takes account of the individual needs that they might have."

But, according to Roberts, employers who let their reservations win are only restricting their pool of talent and unfairly inhibiting disabled workers’ future careers.
“[Hiring disabled workers] benefits the organisation as well as all employees and allows them to build meaningful and successful commercial careers,” he said.

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