How to Build a Disability at Work Programme with a Real Impact

In February 2018, Lloyds Banking Group made headlines as it achieved the highest possible grade in the Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard, the world’s first tool to measure accessibility and inclusion in the workplace. The Group became one of only two organisations to attain a score of 90 or more on the Standard’s 100-point scale, more than once since the assessment was launched in 2004.

Lloyds Banking Group is committed to an inclusive and diverse organisation, and one way this is brought to life, is through the creation of the Disability Work Readiness Programme, offering support to individuals with a disability and little or no work experience. Sarah Redmond, Disability Work Readiness Programme Manager at Lloyds Banking Group, will join our Diversity and Inclusion Conference on 5th June 2019 to share her journey setting up this programme.

A Matter of Confidence

“Most disabilities are acquired across lifetime but many of them are not visible so that’s where the struggle comes. It affects confidence,” Sarah explains.

While traditionally, an employer could only accommodate disabled talent by making changes in infrastructure and working practices, Sarah and her team decided to take it one step further and help develop disabled talent on their chosen career path.

The team partnered with Remploy, a work placement provider specifically tailored to candidates with disabilities, to provide experience and build confidence in this vastly underrepresented talent demographic. Within the space of four years, the programme has gone from attracting 46 placements a year to almost 400.

A Support Mechanism

“This is not a pipelining exercise,” Sarah continues, “it’s more of a social responsibility programme, supporting otherwise overlooked talent on their journey to employability,” Sarah continues. The programme invites people of all ages and backgrounds into Lloyds’ offices for two weeks, to train them on CV writing, interviewing and personal brand development. Participants at the end of the programme then receive a certificate of completion which can attest their skills to potential employers.

“But this programme doesn’t just benefit the candidate. It’s a great opportunity for our hosts to become more disability confident, opening them up to people they wouldn’t normally meet and learning things they can ultimately take back to their teams and customers to implement.”

At the heart of the programme lie the relationships that the candidates and hosts build and can nurture for a lifetime. “It’s a support mechanism, giving life skills to those who critically need it. Our colleagues become invested in the programme and some even carry on contact with candidates, offering them further mentoring support. Some candidates then stay on to work with us, others take the new skills they’ve acquired into new organisations.”

Lloyds Banking Group’s Disability Work Readiness Programme teaches us that it doesn’t take big budget to be more inclusive. All it takes is a commitment for change and the necessary support network from leadership to drive change. Last year, 3.9 million people of working age with disabilities were in employment, up 1.5% from the year before. With more companies like Lloyds stepping in to make a difference, the UK is on track to meet the Government’s target of 4.5 million people with disabilities in employment by 2027.

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