Breaking into the employer market on behalf of our candidates may sound relatively easy, but in the age of globalisation we’ve been butting our heads against a few unexpected walls.
Exclusivity Clauses in Contracts Between Multinationals
Companies which are global multinational corporates generally have massive contracts for supply of labour or recruitment of staff. Because they operate globally, it’s cheaper for them to contract one provider who is also a multinational, to provide human resources, recruitment and temporary staff. Generally, when a contract is signed between two multinational companies for those services, there is an ‘exclusivity’ clause, meaning that no other recruitment provider can supply candidates or advertise jobs on their behalf.
This presents a bit of a problem for diversity and inclusion in employment, as global companies generally do not include a clause which specifies that candidates must be from diverse backgrounds, like our candidates. This effectively ignores the job seekers who are most disadvantaged in the labour market. Global multinationals do not specialise in diversity, nor negotiate reasonable adjustments or facilitate accessibility arrangements on behalf of candidates.
It also locks out agencies such as ours which do specialise in diversity and inclusion.
No ability for local teams to choose how they want to recruit
Another unfortunate side effect of a global supply contract is that local Australian branches of a multi national may be more enlightened, and want to recruit from a diverse range of candidates, and be ready to offer flexible working and accessibility arrangements, but because of their company’s global policy and exclusive contract with one supplier for staff and labour hire, they cannot recruit through an agency such as ours. They are locked in to a contract which offers no specialisation in candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Outsourcing labour to companies where recognition of diversity is not compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability
Despite the fact that Australia has both signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability, and the Optional Protocol, we have no control over the way a multinational company operates in terms of their compliance with the Convention. Multinational companies operate as a global entity, not subject to anything other than the law of the land in each different country. Let’s face it, businesses aren’t signatories to United Nations conventions, so there’s no obligation other than corporate social responsibility to consider the rights of marginalised workers.
About Psychometric testing …
One of the requirements of most international recruitment companies these days is a standardised psychometric test as part of the interview process. Unfortunately, psychometric testing can and does disadvantage candidates with a disability, as proven in case law in the United Kingdom, and which is specifically targeted in America by the Americans with Disabilities Act to prevent pre-employment bias. Enabled Employment argues strongly with employers to exclude our candidates from the currently popular practice of psychometric testing, as inaccurate results due to anxiety, invisible illness or other disability may be excluding candidates from consideration for employment. In fact, there are many scholarly articles which claim that psychometric testing is not an accurate predictor of performance on the job in any case. So, on top of the fact that smaller specialised agencies such as ours are locked out of multinational contracts, the recruitment practices of the companies in charge of recruitment for those multinational companies are running practices with potential bias against our candidates.
So, who can I speak to about this please?
Unfortunately, there are also technological barriers to finding the right person to speak with about providing quality candidates such as ours when a multinational with a global contract for recruitment services to another multinational uses systems which are fully automated, rather than directing an enquiry to a specific department or person.
Without being able to access the right person at a multinational company, we can’t present our business case and our arguments for diverse workforces and inclusion.
Culture and internal policy and procedures
When a global company outsources recruitment to another global company, recruitment becomes ‘someone else’s’ problem. If I’m working for a multinational, and I need a new staff member, I send an email to the department responsible for engaging new staff, and the process of sourcing appropriate candidates is undertaken by an external recruitment provider. They will source candidates from their database, and present them for consideration. If I am an enlightened manager, I may ask for a candidate that increases my workforce diversity and inclusion, which may draw a blank after all the possible candidates, have been screened by psychometric testing, and I will be presented with candidates who are not representative of a diverse and inclusive workforce. I have no choice except to go with the selection of candidates given, as I can’t contact any other recruitment provider under the terms of the global contract signed by my company.
The result is that my workforce will never truly represent the diversity of the population, and the people disadvantaged by the process will never get a look in. The internal policy of the company may be to encourage diversity, but the candidates I’m presented with won’t represent that diversity, and the workforce remains generic and lacking in difference and my global company will always recruit to a carbon copy of what I already have in my staff.
The middle management pressure point
The culture of an organisation is often set by high ideals, which is a great thing to have. However, high ideals – when talking about inclusion and diversity – may be enshrined in policy and promoted to staff, but the inevitable sticking point is not at management level, it’s at middle management level. The staff squeezed most tightly for time and who manage front line staff and tasks are the ones that will be employing diverse candidates, generally hold a misconception that people with a disability or seniors, carers, indigenous Australians or former service personnel will be ‘too difficult’ to manage given the time pressures middle managers are already under. As a consequence, despite the best intention of management to change organisational culture to become more inclusive, the sticking point becomes the middle management level who are time poor, and hold the misconception that employees with a disability will take more of their time in supervision.
It’s not all bad!
Despite these barriers, it’s really not all bad. There are provisions in some multinational corporate contracts for the inclusion of specialist recruitment providers such as Enabled Employment when the call for tenders goes out. If a corporate entity is serious about inclusion and diversity, they will require any tender for recruitment to include candidates from diverse backgrounds. This means there is a point at which a global recruiter may ask us to become part of the tender process in partnership with them, to provide candidates for roles on a regular basis, meeting the global corporate company’s requirement for a range of candidates with diverse backgrounds.
And that means that the commitment to real diversity in a workforce in at least the Australian arm of a global corporate will become accessible to people with diverse backgrounds, such as our candidates.
We continue to lobby on behalf of our candidates for better and fairer access to recruitment rounds, without psychometric testing, and we are very pleased to be included currently by several multinational companies to ensure our candidates are treated fairly.
Most businesses ultimately are concerned with one thing: profitability, and whether they made more this year than last year and how to improve next year. Whether in a period of growth or recession, most business discourse concerns the net worth and profitability of a business; most will rarely make business decisions that may ultimately cost the business too much money for too low a potential for reward.
Employment of people with disabilities has been seen in the past – not as investment in human resources – but as a net cost; an American report in 2009 found that this was an attitude not just at the very top, but at all levels in a business’ hierarchy. Aside from being discriminatory, it is also false. Many costing myths exist regarding employment of people with disabilities.
This is the most common assumption, that there are greater safety issues when employing people with disabilities and therefore they represent a greater cost to insure. Firstly, there is the assumption here that insurance premium cost is based purely and entirely on the risk assessment portion of the insurance premium; certainly, risk of injury is one factor but it is not the only factor – the majority of a premium is calculated on likelihood of accidents based on the work the business carries out.
Even if insurance premiums were calculated purely on the risk of accident in the work place, statistics show that people with disabilities are marginally less likely to be the victim of an accident at work. The difference is slight but the common myth that they represent a greater insurance risk is unfounded either way. People with disability therefore represent a lower insurance risk and lower insurance costs.
One of the arguments regarding the cost of employing people with disabilities is that it is either prohibitively expensive or an unnecessary expense for the employment of just a handful of people. The first is certainly not true as there are a number of regional and national schemes and funds available to either completely cover the cost of modification of the workplace or a substantial fund that they can apply to for a bursary through the Employment Assistance Fund and often represents a one off change for the future.
In the unlikely event that a business would be refused financial assistance for workplace modification, it has been calculated that the cost per person averages out at under $500. A UK based disability employment organisation quotes £184 and US statistics quote a similar figure. The investment is highly unlikely to see the business operating at a loss when we consider that people with disability have a lower attrition rate (are more likely to stay in a job) and are more productive.
Human Resource Costs
Workplace modification includes adjustments to doors, installation of ramps, lowering steps and other physical modifications. Human Resource costs come with certain extra considerations for people with disability – new computer hardware (such as a special keyboard or a mouse) software (for people with poor eyesight for example), or specialist office equipment (desk, chair etc). All of this equipment in Australia is covered under the Employment Assistance Fund.
An in depth academic study of common myths proving a barrier to more businesses employing people with disability is here (login required): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hrm.20211/abstract
This one examines the relative costs and benefits of employing people with disability: http://dro.deakin.edu.au/view/DU:30001618?print_friendly=true
Telework is a growing trend and thanks to cheap and efficient internet-based technology of the last few years, the 9-5 communal office is not always the most beneficial way to get maximum productivity from your staff. Both employers and employees alike are seeing the benefit of working from home rather than insisting on the office-based environment. For employees with disabilities, telework could be beneficial and practical for all parties concerned.
Introducing the possibility for your employees to work from home can be hugely beneficial to your business but you will need a clear plan of how it might work. Logistically, there is a lot to think about and thankfully, there are already clearly defined programmes, presently working in the real world, which allows businesses to diversify to home-working employees. One of the best-known systems is the Results Only Work Environment or ROWE.
So what is ROWE and how does it work? In a move designed to reward productivity rather than hours worked, ROWE seeks to encourage managers to think about achievable goals for their department and for individual employees. The number and pattern of hours worked is irrelevant – this is about agreed achievable targets. Through it, businesses no longer need to work on the minutiae of their employees, merely their output. It seems to be working – ask clothing retailer GAP who fully embraced the method in 2008.
Telework is ideally suited to the ROWE method for its philosophy of working practice and patterns. The benefits for both employers and employees include:
- A focus on performance and targets leads to greater efficiency during a working day. Neither employee nor employer is watching the clock. The employee can use their own judgement on when to start and stop work and to take necessary breaks
- Employees who work from home and use the ROWE method report higher levels of job satisfaction from the flexible nature of the work pattern – set hours are a thing of the past, so long as scheduled tasks get done on time
- It builds trust between the employer and employee. Never underestimate the greater satisfaction that employees get from greater autonomy and accountability
- The employee will develop a greater understanding of the importance of business targets – why a certain project is vital to the company or why this target must be reached by the end of the month
Employees can be recognised and rewarded for measurable results
Have you heard of ROWE or seen it in practice before? What do you think of it? Leave us a comment below and we can start a conversation about it.
Despite the fact that one in four Australians have a disability of some description, the employment statistics are shocking! 54% participate in the workforce compared to 84% of the general population. Telework, or working from home, provides a number of benefits to those who are able and willing to work but are restricted by a disability. Here are some great reasons why telework is going to totally change employment participation for people with a disability.
- Accessibility – Access to the building of a place of work and transport are the biggest barriers to the employment of people with disabilities
- Based on other studies from around the world, telework will increase disability employment levels anywhere from 3,230 (for those will a mild disability) to 14,868 (inclusive of all people with a disability in Australia)
- 9% of all people with a disability who are able to work identified flexible working hours as a major barrier – telework permits flexible hours
- A similar percentage identified transport as the biggest barrier – telework negates the travelling associated with most work
- A massive 66% of people not presently employed due to disability said they would take up a job if telework was an option
- Independent living modifications will already be present in the home – the environment will be suitable for their particular disability
- Technology necessary for a home offices is no longer cost-prohibitive – VoiP and Cloud technology makes for easy file sharing and communication
- A lack of flexible working hours is also a barrier to carers – a telework arrangement will help them work and remain focused on their caring commitments
- The Commonwealth Bank of Australia piloted a telework test scheme and calculated a 27% increase in productivity
- It’s good for morale too – over 70% of all employees who had used a telework option said they were happier in their jobs
- This in turn means your employees are less likely to leave. Replacing them can be expensive
- Geographical location need no longer be a barrier to employment
- Telework will allow people with disability to engage more fully in employment, productivity will increase and employees will overall be far happier in their jobs
Do you have any more reasons why telework is awesome, or even a personal story? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!
We have some very exciting news here at Enabled Employment, we have been accepted into the GRIFFIN Accelerator! This is HUGE news for us and means we will have some big employers on board very soon!
About the GRIFFIN Accelerator
The GRIFFIN Accelerator is a start-up accelerator in Canberra, Australia. Once a year entrepreneurs are invited to apply for a place in the 3+3 program for the opportunity to validate their idea, develop networks and fine-tune their business model.
The GRIFFIN Accelerator model is unique: shortlisted applicants will gain access to a 3 month program with $25,000 for customer validation activities, in return for 10% equity. At the end of this 3 month block, a select number of Griffin start-ups will be invited to continue for another 3 month intensive program with an additional $25,000 instalment for a further 5% equity. The core agenda is to form and support new innovative companies; providing a structured high growth path so start-ups exit the program with an investible proposition or revenue generation.
The GRIFFIN Accelerator, Canberra, draws experience from a pool of mentors, each with entrepreneurial experience, skills and experience in the government sector, or a significant technology industry network. GRIFFIN mentors get involved. They provide sage advice and get their hands dirty when projects need a boost. A mentor is married to each project, acting like a case manager to ensure the participants are headed in the right direction.
If you would like to know more out the Griffin Accelerator you can visit their website.