Ensuring recruitment processes are barrier-free – a blog by Sara Wright, Quality Assurance Manager

 Here at Sopra Steria Recruitment, we have long been committed to barrier-free recruitment. As a Disability Confident employer, official partner of Business Disability Forum (BDF), and sponsor of the organisation’s Charter for Disability-Smart Recruitment Service Providers, we are working to remove the hurdles that disabled jobseekers have historically faced.


Disabled people continue to be disproportionately represented across the workforce. Official figures show that there were an estimated 3.7 million people of working age with disabilities in employment in the first quarter of 2018, representing an employment rate of 50.7%. The employment rate for people without disabilities, meanwhile, was 81.1%.

While some disabled people are not in a position to work, much of this disparity can be attributed to the fact that individuals with disabilities can struggle to secure employment. The sad fact is that, while the majority of organisations understand the value of diverse workforces, and are open to hiring disabled people, historic recruitment processes can be a barrier to success.

We understand that we have a responsibility to assist disabled jobseekers into the workforce, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it makes commercial sense to draw skills from the widest pool of talent.

We have made a commitment to seek and welcome applicants with disabilities and long-term conditions and we regularly review our processes and methods to ensure they are attractive and barrier-free for individuals with disabilities or long-term conditions. We also provide on-going disability-specific training to all employees on their legal obligations as a supplier of recruitment services. However, we are under no illusion that this is a ‘job done’. There is always more we can do.

We’re constantly reviewing job adverts to ensure they focus on output, rather than process, and regularly assessing our technology to ensure that it remains accessible amid regular updates. We’re retraining our people with BDF’s refreshed programme and working towards achieving Disability Confident Level 2. 

Success in disability inclusion lies in collaboration, and the fact that many of our clients are also partners of BDF means that we can expand how we work together and continue to raise awareness through joint initiatives. Sharing best practice is a sure-fire way of improving outcomes for everyone, and in the near future we’ll also be working with BDF to create a Disability Smart standard for recruitment service providers as well as joining its Employment Taskforce and consulting on updating its best practice guides. 

Specialist jobsites which exclusively target a disabled audience are, to a certain extent, creating a bottle-neck where some candidates with disabilities feel that applying through these platforms is their only chance of finding a suitable role - but it shouldn’t be like that. Every candidate should be confident that they are able to apply for any job - whether that be direct or through a recruiter - and that their needs will be considered and met. Together, we can make that happen.

  • Sara Wright, Quality Assurance Manager, Sopra Steria Recruitment