Banking giant Barclays is taking positive steps to recruit and retain people with disabilities
Spend a few minutes browsing Barclays’ corporate website and certain words and phrases start to jump out at you – like “talent”, “opportunity” and “unlocking potential”. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find that the banking giant actually includes diversity in its overarching value statement, describing it as bringing “new ideas and fresh perspectives”.
It points to an organisation that’s committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity, not only because it’s the “right” thing to do – but because it makes good business sense. As Jane Clark, Head of Graduate Resourcing and Development, puts it, “A diverse workforce helps strengthen our business, and we want to develop the careers of people from all backgrounds. That’s why we’ve created a very open environment and made sure there are no barriers in our recruitment process.”
Partnership with MyPlus Students' Club
The first step is to ensure that the message is actually reaching the target audience – potential employees with disabilities. As one of our key sponsors, Barclays is well placed to do this. “Our partnership with MyPlus Students' Club gives us the opportunity to get out there and sell ourselves to this fantastic resource pool,” says David Caldwell, IT Accessibility Manager. “People think that they can’t work for a financial services company because of their disability: being involved with MyPlus Students' Club gives us an opportunity to say to them, ‘Actually, that’s not true’.”
Making sure existing employees feel confident in discussing and dealing with disability is vital too – so Barclays and MyPlus Students' Club have been working together to raise awareness among those on the recruiting front line. “MyPlus Students' Club have run workshops for us and created a really safe environment, where recruiters feel like they can ask anything,” says Jane. “It’s broadened our thinking, and helped us build a team of disability-confident recruiters.”
Upfront about disability
All this feeds into and supports an atmosphere where potential candidates are encouraged to share as much information as they feel comfortable doing. “We recognise that talking about a disability is a very personal thing,” says Jane. “But if there are adjustments that need to be made it’s useful to know up front. Hopefully we’ve created an environment where candidates feel happy to disclose.”
That was certainly true for Paul Smyth, now Head of IT Accessibility, who joined Barclays after finishing his degree in business at the University of Warwick in 2003. Paul has a visual impairment, and is registered blind. “Being up front with my disability on my CV worked out well which is why I’d recommend it to others,” he says. “People were aware, they asked what they needed to do, such as getting things in large print for me, and showed me they were willing to think about reasonable adjustments.”
Productive in the workplace
It was a good indicator of what lay ahead. Since Paul first started, Barclays has worked hard to improve its support for employees with disabilities, taking a flexible and proactive approach to identifying needs and providing practical support. “These days there are a lot of common adjustments that don’t even need a medical assessment,” says Paul. “It’s about removing barriers so that people can be productive in the workplace.”
Employees are also actively encouraged to share their experiences. Over the past two years, David Caldwell has been running an internal awareness programme, This is Me. People are encouraged to share their own experiences of disability and mental health issues through blogs, videos, events, posters and emails, challenging stigma, improving understanding and giving people the opportunity to seek help if they need it.
But it’s not just about individuals learning from each other. Barclays is also committed to learning and sharing at an organisational level, and is an active member of groups including WharfAbility and the Business Disability Forum. “We can only do what we think is right, but it’s good to see what others are doing,” says David. “The Forum is a great opportunity for learning.”
Reach is Barclays’ own internal disability network, and currently has around 1000 members across the UK. It offers guidance and practical support for all employees including those with disabilities, their line managers and carers. “It’s a great form of peer support,” says Paul. “We come together to chat about issues that people are facing and share our experiences.” For the business, it’s an essential source of first-hand insights and information that can then be fed back into the development of new policies and and services, ensuring that it continues to be inclusive – and to help all its people realise their potential.
Barclays is an international financial services provider engaged in personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management with an extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. One of the world’s best-known banks, Barclays has long been recognised for its positive approach to disability.
Tips from the Top
Paul Smyth, Barclays’ Head of IT Accessibility, and himself registered blind, shares his tips for would-be applicants
Barclays is committed to being a disability confident organisation. Our objective is to become the most accessible and inclusive bank for all colleagues, customers and clients.
Barclays aims to be an employer of choice for talent. We are committed to providing the support that you may need to be successful at Barclays - be it equipment, flexible working, line manager support and vibrant colleague disability network, Reach. We run Disability Listening Groups, hosted by senior executives across the business; at these forums colleagues with disabilities meet with senior leaders to discuss opportunities for change to help make the working environment inclusive and accessible. Find out more about Barclays Disability Network, Reach - one of the Top 10 Global Accessibility Networks.
Did you know?
The insights of our colleagues with disabilities help us to identify new ways of making our products, services and facilities accessible to everyone.
- Summer Internships To get a sense of what it’s like to work here, experience it for yourself. Our Spring, Summer and Off-cycle internships will immerse you in our work, culture and business. You’ll learn from our people, while working on live deals and real business challenges. You may also take a significant step towards securing a full time opportunity with us.
- Off-cycle internships An off-cycle internship offers a unique opportunity to work within one of the various teams within Banking for an extended period of time, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the work and culture and gain invaluable insights into life as a full time analyst within the Banking division of the Investment Bank at Barclays.
- Spring insight We’re dedicated to helping you go further – and that starts from the moment you first apply. With our new Spring recruitment process, we’re moving towards a different way of thinking for our industry. It’s the most objective and fair way to see the best in our applicants – which means more diversity. It’s the most immersive way to show you what we do – which means realistic expectations for you. And on top of all that, it’s the most efficient use of your time.
- Graduate Opportunities Gained perspective? Build your own picture. Respected and valued, you’ll challenge the views put before you, creating your own path. Our support and training will equip you to make an ever-larger contribution to work that shapes tomorrow for clients, our business and your career.
Tips for applying
Paul Smyth, Barclays' Head of IT Accessibility, and himself registered blind, shares his tips for would-be applicants.
- Be upfront Don't be scared to disclose your disability at the earliest opportunity, it gives the organisation a chance to provide you with the help and support you need.
- Be positive Managing a disability can help you develop different skills and strengths. Highlight these at interview by drawing on your own personal experiences.
- Be assertive Be proactive and clear in asking for any reasonable adjustments that you need. Don't apologise!
Our people reflect more than just a bank, they reflect the world. So we've taken great care to foster a culture that will welcome and involve you whatever your background. We embrace differences and consider creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment vital to our continued business success.
No matter what your disability, we'll be looking for particular strengths and cognitive abilities – character traits and skills you’ll find in Barclays colleagues all over the business.
- Agile learner
- Resilient performer
- Relationship navigator
- Team collaborator
- Numerical interpretor
- Critical analyst
We recognise that different people need different types of reasonable adjustments. However, these are some of the typical examples of adjustments that we can make. Contact Luke Morton for more questions and to find the best adjustments for you.
Our commitment to becoming more accessible and inclusive means that we must constantly improve the solutions that are provided to support colleagues with disabilities, health conditions or impairments who may require adjustments to their working environment in order to be productive and reach their full potential.
Types of adjustments may vary; physical adjustments may include specialist equipment (e.g. assistive software relating to dyslexia, or ergonomic furniture to improve work stations). Non-physical adjustments could be, for example, adjusting roles and responsibilities or performance targets and/or offering flexible working patterns or regular breaks.
At Barclays, practical advice and tools are available to colleagues so that they’re clear on the support available and how to get it. This includes extensive online help, a self-service requesting portal for workplace adjustments and an employee assistance helpline provided by our small HR workplace adjustments team.
Once Workplace Adjustments are in place, colleagues may choose to record the details on the Barclays Workplace Adjustments Passport. This is a living record of adjustments that can be retained by the colleague and their line manager and reviewed regularly. It can also be referred to when changing roles or reporting lines to help inform the new line manager about what adjustments are in place along with other relevant information.
Read what these graduates have to say about: Their career at Barclays Managing disability at work Tips and advice
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