What employers really mean when they say they are disability confident
By Ann Kenny, Early Careers Administrator at Bank of England
The Bank of England’s Strategic Plan places a clear emphasis on having a workforce which reflects the public we serve. Our mission is “Promoting the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability”. In order to achieve this, we need to attract and inspire the best people to public service, and encourage a range of thought by better reflecting the diversity in the United Kingdom. One of the key aspects of our diversity framework is ensuring that people with disabilities can be employed in the Bank and can reach their full potential. We are proud to be a disability confident employer and we offer advice and support at all stages of the employee life cycle.
Pre joining the Bank
Diversity being one of our key objectives, we want to ensure that we are attracting a diverse pool of candidates.
At application stage, applicants will be given the opportunity to inform us about any disability via our application form. We strongly encourage students to be open and upfront about sharing this information and we recognise that disabilities can come in many forms. This will allow us to make any necessary adjustments and ensure a fair recruitment process for all. Once candidates have informed us about their disability we will reach out via email to discuss adjustments – this can be anything from 25% extra time to installing special software for the visually impaired where written tests are involved.
After joining the Bank
Where needed, new joiners will have the opportunity to meet and discuss potential adjustments with a dedicated member from our Employee Relations Team. They will provide advice and support through the onboarding process and will ensure a smooth transition into the Bank.
In addition to support from our HR department, the Bank has a very active Disability Network. The Disability Network is made up of members of staff who work together to promote awareness of the full spectrum of disabilities which exist both in the Bank and in wider society. The network is made up of people who either have a disability or who have a special interest with disability employment issues. The Disability Network (originally the Disability Focus Group) was established by a group of Bank staff in 2008. The network now engages in a wide range of activities and meets on a regular basis. Recently the Disability Network has launched a disability network buddy scheme. We recognise that starting a new job in an organisation can be daunting for any member of staff, whether it is as a new starter, movement within an organisation or returning from an extended period of absence. For someone with a disability, the hurdles can seem even more intimidating. However, the settling in process can be made easier when an individual is teamed up with a buddy. A buddy provides a ‘listening ear’, particularly during those first few weeks at the Bank, and can signpost support that is available. The scheme was launched in August and is aimed at new joiners or those returning from long term sick but the network is also happy to hear from existing colleagues in need of help or assistance. Furthermore the network regularly invites guest speakers to talk about their experience of life with a disability. This spreads a positive and inspiring message and engages a wider audience within the Bank.
The Bank has a Mental Health Network. It aims to raise awareness, improve understanding (and dispel misunderstandings) around mental health conditions and highlight the support available to staff. The network believes this will help combat stigma around mental health problems, which will in turn lead to staff feeling more able to be open about them and seek help earlier. In support of this, the Bank committed publicly to the Time to Change pledge in October 2013. And last October a short film was publicly promoted by the Bank featuring staff sharing their mental health lived experiences. The film received very positive internal and external feedback and is part of ‘This is Me in the City’, a new City-wide campaign led by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. A participant of the film also shared his experience of working at the Bank in this blog.
We also recognise that to get the most out of a diverse workforce, we need to ensure people can bring their best to work and feel supported. Our extensive wellbeing programme promotes mental and physical wellbeing with staff counsellors, discounted gym-memberships, various life seminars and flexible leave options.
I hope we have demonstrated to you that we are committed to attracting, selecting and retaining a diverse pool of candidates and helping current and future employees who have disabilities feel at ease in our workplace and know they have a strong support system in place if needed.