The Disability Confident Scheme, facilitated by the Department of Work and Pensions, has three levels with 'Disability Confident Leader' being the highest one.
"We embrace diversity at the council and see it as being critical to our success. This is because we want to ensure we represent and understand our customers effectively, and we believe diversity will maximise the breadth of experience and skill we have, which will also improve our decision making," said Cllr Ash Cartman, executive member whose portfolio includes equalities and organisational development.
"Diversity is a key part of our vision for North Somerset, we have put fairness at the heart of our new vision for an “open, fair and greener North Somerset”. We recognise that tackling inequality is critical to improving outcomes for all our residents and staff," he added. As a large employer in North Somerset, the council champions the importance of ensuring disabled people have what they need at work to enable them to do their jobs well. Approximately 12% of the council workforce has a disability, ranging from mobility impairment or managing poor mental health, to those with hidden disabilities such as dyslexia and Crohns Disease. This is broadly similar to the working age disabled people percentage in North Somerset of 12.7%.
Cllr Cartman said: "We recognise that disabled people face a much greater challenge in gaining employment. Recent data shows that 52.3% of disabled people were in employment, down from 54.1% a year previously compared to the employment rate for people who are not disabled, which was 81.1%, down from 82.2%. Reflecting on these statistics it is clear that there is a lot we need to do to ensure disabled people are given equal opportunity across all areas of employment. "Over the past five years we have seen a sustained increase in the number of disabled people who are supported to work with us, and we are committed to continue and strengthen that support. "
As a Disability Confident Leader, the council has committed to a positive action scheme and those commitments include:
- ensuring the recruitment process is inclusive and accessible
- offering an interview to disabled people who meet the essential criteria for a job role
- anticipating and providing reasonable adjustments as required
- supporting existing employees who acquire a disability or long-term health condition, enabling them to stay in work
- taking additional action to improve access to employment for disabled people. This includes offering work experience, apprenticeships and other development opportunities.
Cllr Cartman added: "As a Disability Confident Leader, we are committed to helping other employers in the area to benefit from employing disabled people. We will use all opportunities we have to promote the importance of being ‘Disability Confident’ and to support disabled people into sustained employment."