Creating an Inclusive and Accessible Recruitment Process

Purple View Point

In a tight labour market, the identification of talented people as potential employees is a real competitive advantage.

Disabled people are hugely under-represented in employment. Disabled people want to work. There is a fear they will be discriminated against in the recruitment process because they have a disability. Hiring managers are also fearful about unintentionally offending disabled applicants through inappropriate language and etiquette. Purple believe there is a disconnect between the two groups that can easily be resolved opening up opportunities for both sides. Creating an inclusive and accessible recruitment process is key to this being achieved.


Around 1 in 5 people of working age in the UK have a disability but are under-represented in the labour market. The disability employment gap (the gap between disabled and non-disabled people) has stubbornly sat at around 30% for the last decade. With organisations in an increasing number of sectors reporting difficulties recruiting staff it will become ever more important to tap into this under-utilised pool of talent. To do so, means ensuring disabled people are not deterred from applying for your vacancies and are given the chance to be assessed on their talents and ability to perform the role. Ensuring your recruitment process is inclusive and accessible also safeguards your organisation from claims of discrimination or bias.

Advice & Guidance

  • Be innovative in the way you construct your job description and person specification so you don’t unintentionally rule out applicants who could do the job. For example, have a UK driving licence is becoming standard but yet many jobs don’t require you to drive
  • Make the content of your job adverts accessible. Use plain English avoiding jargon, be precise and use at least font size 12. Be clear about the essential requirements of the role so people can make their own decisions whether to apply
  • Review where you advertise your role. Think about using specialist disability recruitment portals and media to reach out to the disabled community letting them know you are positive about disability
  • Make statements in your HR-related literature about your positive approach to the recruitment of disabled people. If you are undertaking proactive activities then shout about it
  • Being open about your approach to disability will encourage applicants to disclose at all points along the recruitment journey
  • Given 80% of disabled people have hidden impairments don’t make any assumptions about who has, and has not, got a disability. Be genuinely open and engaging to all people about any adjustments needed to do the role, and you might be surprised at the level of honesty and commitment you get back
  • Consider the level of flexibility in receiving information from an applicant as part of the application process. What information are you trying to elicit and can you get it in alternative ways. For example, could people send in a video application rather than an online written one
  • Ensure the interview takes place in an accessible location which will minimise the requests for reasonable adjustments
  • If you use Assessment centres consider developing a policy that proactively addresses reasonable adjustments in terms of requests e.g. additional time etc
  • If you monitor the diversity of your applications (which Purple think you should do) then keep the information separate from the application forms and/or CV’s
  • If the role requires a medical questionnaire or health check then be open and transparent around the reasons and assessment criteria
  • To reduce the risk of unconscious bias, where possible two people (at least) should be involved in the shortlisting of candidates
  • You may want to consider disabled people (with a range of impairments) test your end to end recruitment process – all the way from the initial ease of finding your available vacancies in the media through applying the selection or interview process and onboarding
  • It is important all people involved in the recruitment process should have appropriate disability-related training and development
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