An awkward conversation equals a positive change.

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

By Adam Tobias. (Parter, Wells Tobias Group)

I attended the annual RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) conference yesterday with my business partner Joe Wells.

And as usual with any RIDI event, we came away feeling inspired and motivated to do more to support RIDI’s core aim – namely, to break down the barriers faced by the millions of disabled people who are entering or want to enter the job market.

And, despite significant legislation designed to protect and enhance opportunities for disabled people, we have such a long way to go before the distinctions between ‘talent’ and ‘disabled talent’ are totally removed and eradicated.


Personally, I feel the biggest challenge and most important step is open dialogue; talking about the issue faced by disabled people in the workplace brings it to the forefront, where it’s not uncomfortable or awkward. The more we all talk – to each other, to our commercial customers, to our partners, to our candidates, to other recruiters and influencers – the more this issue will stop being about the challenges and will start being about the huge opportunities created.

The latest unemployment figures, out this morning, are the lowest in over 40 years. That rise of employment increases the chronic skills shortages that are faced by the employment market. Simply speaking, UK Plc. needs more skilled workers entering the job market, and disabled workers (or those disabled people wishing to enter the job market) represent a fantastic opportunity to overcome these shortages because at present they are woefully underrepresented and untapped.

What are the barriers disabled workers face in entering the job market? Fear of discrimination and judgement. Companies unable, unwilling or frightened to make reasonable adjustments. Workers having to fit around the specific needs of a job, rather than creating a job that utilises their unique skills and circumstances. Overcoming challenges traveling to and from work. There are many more.


Last year, The Wells Tobias Group conducted an anonymous survey of thousands of our candidates regarding disability...

19% of the total respondents acknowledged that they had a disability (either visible or invisible), which closely mirrors national statistics. However, we were shocked to learn that of all those disabled respondents, only 10% had declared their disability to their employer.

So, even if their employer was very supportive of disabled workers, they simply didn’t know about it and were therefore unable to make any reasonable adjustments or provide practical support.

And most often, the respondents cited fear of discrimination as the biggest reason for non-declaration. That is very worrying...

We all have a moral responsibility to speak up for those without a voice.

And recruiters are at the coal face on this issue. We must be brave and take this issue to our clients and challenge them to make a difference. And we must target ourselves in increasing the number of disabled workers we represent. We can all make a difference. I urge everyone to look into the Government’s Disability Confidence scheme and start a conversation about disability today.


Adam Tobias (Partner)

Inventum Consulting & Inventum Search, Co-Founder of Wells Tobias Group

Tel: 020 3008 4335