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  • Writer's picturePhilip J Connolly

The Emperor Exposed

British industry and commerce currently faces high levels of vacancies and a struggle to recruit. I have known some of its major trade bodies, such as those in engineering and construction, have in the past complained that the Government wasn't doing enough to help them fill these vacancies and address future skill shortages. My question to them is, are they doing enough to recruit disabled talent?

Trade bodies are influential organisations who lobby Government hard to cede to its members policy asks. Such bodies could support their members to instigate reasonable adjustments, monitor their recruitment for diversity and equality and extend these achievements down their own supply chains. Disability Resilience Network will respond by supporting the trade bodies to do this.

Disability Resilience Network offers to help them go beyond Disability Confident, because that scheme doesn't actually measure outcomes, but merely preparation. Surely a ‘confident’ scheme would be confident of its own success. No, I have to tell you the emperor is not wearing enough clothes. Not actually naked, because, after all, employer engagement has got to be a good thing, but the emperor is nevertheless exposed. No one can prove the Disability Confident scheme works, because no one is required to do so. Everyone who measures their record is automatically setting better practice, good practice even.

The training Disability Resilience Network offers would be compatible with your business targets and business culture. What we offer will be better than traditional and routine training, because it will build upon researched incentives and not only legal compliance. If you are one of the around 475 registered trade bodies or the 180 who are members of the Trade Association Forum, please can we talk?

We seek dialogue so we ask if we can meet with you and your board and speak at your AGM. Yes, of course, we have alerted both the Government's leading representative, the Minister for Disabled People, and the employer's body on good practice – that good practice lies outside of the Disability Confident scheme – but they may choose to await the impending review of the scheme before taking action. In the meantime, it may be you or another member of your trade body that we can support to define what is good.

There are additional questions hanging over the scheme:

  • How many applicants have failed assessment at Level 3?

  • How long is self-accreditation in place before it lapses at Level 1 and Level 2 and how long is an organisation permitted to stay on Level 1 before it must undertake Level 2?

  • Since public sector organisations are required to comply with the public sector equality duty, what is the consequence of stripping out the public sector organisations from the data, especially those with a Level 3 award?

  • If this were to be done to the data, what would it tell us on present trends of how long it would be before the private sector was completely signed up?

The Disability Resilience Network is further concerned that the scheme has so far attracted the low hanging fruit. Is this the case or, if not, where is the proof otherwise? It is our understanding that the attrition rate is around 12% but how does this compare with the rate of new supporters? It matters because the perception of each supporter employer is a reflection of the perception of the scheme as a whole. If you know the answers contact us, if you have other questions still contact us.

Fortunately, there are policy solutions at hand. This website began with a discussion of the policy guidance PPN 06/20 issued by the Cabinet Office. That guidance on social value includes a metric on disability recruitment and retention. We are working on further guidance that would support the use of this metric, but if you have used this metric yourself let us know. If you haven't, ask the Cabinet Office for the clarification you need. Fixing Disability Confident requires mandatory reporting of disability recruitment and retention for those businesses in receipt of public contracts, but large scale uptake of good practice also requires social value, an opportunity provided by PPN 06/20 and the Social Value Act.

Contact the Disability Resilience Network via the form at


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