Quick-Fire Chats with Philips: Creating an Inclusive Workplace for People with Learning Disabilities

Diversity & Inclusion are more than just buzzwords. Every day we see more and more companies take on fantastic initiatives to ensure they welcome talent from all walks of life into their teams. That is why, with every conference we host here at In-house Recruitment, we strive to share amazing case studies of inclusive hiring practices, in the hopes of educating and inspire the entire industry to take action. 

For our London Conference, we’ve invited Louise Moore, Head of Talent Acquisition for Philips UK and Ireland, Middle East and Turkey, to talk about some of the things she is doing to provide meaningful work experience for people with learning disabilities. Below we catch up with her ahead of her talk on 21st March.

Diversity shouldn’t be seen as a box-ticking exercise. You cannot attract diverse candidates if you don’t first build a culture free from discrimination, where all employees are treated equally. But often times employers focus their strategies on the more familiar elements of diversity, such as race, ethnicity, age, gender or sexuality.

With only 6% of people with learning disabilities currently in employment, Louise wanted to make sure Philips is accessible to individuals with any disability.

“Jobseekers with disabilities need to apply to 60% more jobs before they find work. They will also be less likely to attend interviews as they fear the employer will be unaccommodating,” she reveals.

After attending a number of events focused on disability and employment in 2016, Louise set out to create an environment fostering inclusivity for people with learning disabilities. She quickly received the support of Philips CEO Neil Mesher, a big advocate for the cause.

“A genuinely inclusive outreach programme takes work and preparation, but the benefits mean there are opportunities to tap into unexpected talent who can make a meaningful contribution to your organisation,” Louise explains. Below she shares some of the steps that have helped her make difference in the life of people with learning disabilities.

1. Registering with Disability Confident

Disability Confident is a programme designed to help recruit and retain people with disabilities for their skills and talent. The programme has offered Philips guidance and resources on how to accommodate people with disabilities and how to help them realise their potential and contribute fully to the success of their teams.

2. Partnering with a local charity to add real value

Philips also partnered with Halow Project, a local Guildford charity empowering young people with learning disabilities to join the workforce. Through this partnership, Louise and her team could provide support to young people in the form of CV writing or interview training. But soon they realised they could do more to help young talent get a meaningful role within Philips.

3. Company taster day

The next step was to host a company taster day that would give young people from Halow a feel for what it’s like to work in different departments within Philips. “We worked with Halow to design exercises in sales, marketing and customer services for participants. It was important to produce a programme which was going to benefit both partners and provide a meaningful experience for the individuals involved.” The day was carried out with the support of different teams from within Philips, all of whom actively took part in the exercises.

4. Assessments and first hires

Following the taster day, participants were given personal feedback on their performance and some were offered work experience with tailored flexible hours and working conditions. An assessment centre was developed off the back of this, which is now run on an annual basis, Louise adds.

“One of our permanent hires from the programme is Will, who works in our facilities department.  Will was recently invited to speak at the House of Commons together with our CEO to share practical advice on how to work with local organisations to create career opportunities for young people with learning difficulties.

“It’s not difficult to become more inclusive towards people with disabilities,” Louise concludes. “We just need to make sure that what we’re doing is really meaningful to both the candidate and the business.

Watch Louise’s full story, from our London Conference 2019, and learn how you too can make a difference for people with learning disabilities.

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